How To Prepare Yourself Psychologically For Exams


When it comes to getting ready for an upcoming exam, there’s no substitute for academic  preparation.  But  even  if  you  know  your  material  inside  out,  there’s  still  an advantage  to  be  gained  from  putting  yourself  in  the  proper  mindset.  Some  students who experience test anxiety claim that even when they’ve studied hard, they still freeze when the test is placed in front of them.

Although academic preparation is essential, a little psychological preparation can help take the sting out of an exam. If you take time to find out all you can about the exam, get yourself acquainted with the test site or a similar site, and work at maintaining a positive attitude, you’re more likely to escape the test-taking anxiety that plagues unprepared students.

Find Out About the Exam
Fear  of  the  unknown  can  be  a  great  contributor  to  test  anxiety.  You  can  dispel  some  of this fear and its resulting anxiety by asking the instructor/teacher directly about the nature of the exam and by looking over previous exams for further clues. Asking the instructor/teacher seems so  obvious  that  it’s  surprising  how  many  students  fail  to  do  it.  And  yet,  in  many  cases, instructors/teachers are not at all hesitant to discuss what the test will involve. Ask about the types of questions (objective, essay, or both), the length of the exam, and the materials (textbooks, notes, calculators) you’ll be allowed to bring with you into the exam room. You can gain further clues about the nature of your upcoming exam by looking at exams from previous semesters and noting how each test was written and what the questions covered. When you  do  finally  sit  down  to  take  the  exam,  you’re  less  apt  to  be  knocked  off  balance  by surprises.

Get Acquainted with the Test Room
Exams may be held in auditoriums, large lecture halls, or ordinary classrooms. To be psy- chologically prepared for an exam, get acquainted with the site where the test will take place or with a similar location. A week or two before the exam, study for a few hours each evening at the site where you will be taking the test. Your familiarity with the room and the sense of control you feel while studying will help establish a link between working in this room and succeeding on the exam. If you can’t study at the room of the test, you can still prepare yourself for the atmosphere of the test by studying in a quiet area, by practicing at a chair-desk if you know that’s what you’ll be sitting at for the exam, and by timing yourself as you work to get used to the challenge of performing under a deadline.

Maintain a Positive Attitude
The  ideas  and  strategies  for  managing  stress  can  be  helpful throughout the semester. But often it’s not until exam time that these techniques are truly put through their paces. It is essential to address the stress of a test with a can-do approach. Exam-anxious students often sabotage their own efforts by preparing themselves for failure. To counteract this inclination and to cultivate an optimistic attitude, use deep breathing  and  progressive  muscle  relaxation  to  help  you  relax,  use  affirmative  statements  to counter any negative self-talk, and use visualization to help chart a course for your success.