Anxiety: Test Taking Anxiety. What is it & How to overcome it?

Anxiety: Test Taking Anxiety. What is it & How to overcome it?

By: Julissa Acebo
Do you ever experience a feeling of agitation and distress while taking an important test or exam? Followed by rapid heartbeat, muscle tension, or struggle to catch your breath? These are all symptoms of test taking anxiety which is common among many people. Some anxiety is natural and helps to keep you prepared for an exam, or mentally and physically alert, but too much can cause physical distress and/or concentration difficulties.

Test taking anxiety can:
• Impact your ability to study or perform well on a test
• Derail weeks and months of hard work
• Cause poor understanding and association of content, which inhibits your ability to recall information

Test taking anxiety tips:

  1. Be prepared
    • Talk to teacher, professor, or boss to get an idea of what to expect on the test
    • Leave ample time to study for the test. Do not wait for the night before
  2. Let go of perfectionism
    • It is impossible to learn every detail of the material that was taught
    • Focus on the most important concepts and learn them well enough to teach them
    • When you know that you have done your best and worked hard it is the only thing that matters, not the perfection.
  3. Make sure to get enough sleep the night before
    • At least 7-9 hours of a good night’s sleep will help concentration and memory
  4. Control negative thoughts
    • Counter any negative thoughts with other, more valid thoughts
    • For example, replace “I’m not good enough,” “I didn’t study hard enough,” or “I can’t do this” with “I CAN do this,” “I know the material,” and “I studied hard.”
    If all else fails, seek professional help to help you overcome your test taking anxiety.

If you or someone you know is experiencing Test Taking Anxiety, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit



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