How you can beat test anxiety

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Anxious woman

How anxiety holds you back.
Photo courtesy of pixabay.

Do you suffer from test anxiety?

Test anxiety is not just a problem for children in school. Want to drive, you need to take a test. Many jobs require tests. Even after you graduate from school many professions require licensing exams or tests to renew your license. Job interviews are another form of test, an oral one.

Dating is also a sort of test and some of you have only been able to do this with some alcohol to help you overcome that type of test anxiety. Sales also involve tests, does the client want what you are selling? Do you take it personally if you “fail to make the sale?” If you can’t stand being turned down you will never make it in sales.

Test anxiety is far more common than most of us recognize.

So today and in upcoming posts, we will look at test anxiety, how it affects us, and how to overcome it.

It is not the people who know the least that get test anxiety, nor is it those who are at the most risk of failure. Often the people who have the highest test anxiety are actually the best students but they consistently make three so-called thinking errors that interfere with their ability to put down on paper or another medium the full extent of what they know.

Don’t make the three key mistakes of people with high test anxiety. Test anxiety, technically called evaluation anxiety, is maintained by three concurrent thinking errors.

Don’t underrate your abilities.

People with high test anxiety consistently underrate their abilities compared to those who do not have test anxiety. You need to believe in yourself.

Learn to give yourself credit for what you know rather than focus on what you might get wrong. If you suffer from “low self-esteem,” work on being able to see the best in yourself.

Don’t overrate the consequences of doing poorly on the test.

One low score will not flunk you out of college. Cumulatively the consequences of a lot of test anxiety will lower your grades. Even then, slightly lower grades will not keep you from graduating if you do all the other work.

Remember in a hundred years no one, not even you, will know or care about what grades you got.

Honest, grades are not all that important. What does matter, is have you really learned the material? People who cram for tests will have forgotten most of what they learned in a week or two. If you really care about the subject you are studying them you will learn this material at a deep level.

Think grades or GPA matter all that much. Unless you are trying to get into a very exclusive school or are taking a once in a lifetime type test most times you score today is not all that big a deal.

Quick, what was your doctor’s GPA? What kind of grades did your lawyer get in school? Every day we trust our lives and liberties to people and have no idea what grade they received in school.

What we do care about is do they know their stuff. Can they get the job done?

Do not engage in negative self-talk that uses up working memory and creates the poor performance you feared.

Repeatedly telling yourself you are going to fail a test, nearly guarantees that you will. Your brain will try to help you out and make your predictions come true. (See the post on the Nocebo Effect in which you can quite literally think yourself sick.)

Good coaches do not solely focus on the athlete’s mistakes. They also give their players encouragement and recognition for things well done.

Be your own coach and encourage yourself. Tell yourself that you are going to do your best and you will.

Do not put off studying until the last minute.

Learn to study well ahead of time. Putting off your study session and then studying under pressure makes it harder for your brain to store that new information. Study early and often.

Even if time is limited, short periods of study each day are better than last-minute marathon study sessions.

When you really don’t know the answers your test anxiety will increase. If you are well prepared and well-rested your chances of doing well improve.

Watch for a future post on “How you can get A’s.” Tips I have learned from my many years in school and my time as a faculty member.

If all the basic tips for reducing test anxiety do not help, consider getting professional help. A good counselor or therapist can work with you on reducing this and many other anxieties.

Chances are that if you suffer from test anxiety there are lots of other anxieties that are keeping you from having the happy life you deserve.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

6 thoughts on “How you can beat test anxiety

  1. Pingback: 13 things your counselor should know | counselorssoapbox

  2. Pingback: Relaxed or tired? | counselorssoapbox

  3. Pingback: Why do therapists stop seeing you if you aren’t getting better? | counselorssoapbox

  4. Pingback: Without a dream life’s a nightmare | counselorssoapbox

  5. Pingback: When you mind magnifies your problems | counselorssoapbox

  6. Pingback: How you can get more A’s, easier B’s, and pass life’s tests in 9 easy steps. | counselorssoapbox

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.