Tips and Tricks to Avoid Test Anxiety

With finals week rapidly approaching, North Dakota State students may experience an onset of test anxiety. Those who know they need a specific grade in a class may spend dead week and finals week stressed to cram material and complete final projects.

There are facilities on NDSU’s campus, such as the Center for Writers and ACE that are able to help students cope with stress they may feel and offer tips to avoid heavy anxiety through proper studying habits.

Mary Pull, director of the Center for Writers, offered multiple tips on study habits to avoid anxiety. The most common types of students to experience course anxiety are either those who are perfectionists or too busy to view their assignment as a priority.

Perfectionists may see their grades as a measure of their self-worth and are “afraid that anything less than a 100 percent grade makes them seem ignorant and unworthy.”

Conversely, those who are too busy and devote too much time to student organizations or a job may lack the motivation to spend long hours studying and mastering material.

Pull said students can develop study skills from skimming chapters and taking notes, but made the distinction that this alone will not lead true mastery of course content.

Understanding and evaluating complex concepts requires students to read and study multiple times on multiple occasions.

“Students who are able to devote enough time to concentrate on course material might be able to relax more when taking tests and giving oral presentations,” Pull said.

ACE Learning Services Coordinator Betsy Carter stressed the importance of starting to study early and reviewing often.

“Knowing exactly what you need to study will help you review the material more efficiently and the more you know about the test, the less daunting it will seem,” Carter said.

Carter compared studying for a test to training for a sporting event, practicing a bit each day. Reviewing in smaller portions consistently before the test can help students avoid feeling overwhelmed by the amount of material and information.

She recommended using different methods such as flashcards, discussion with friends or creating study guides to assist in studying.

While a solid study plan helps to minimize test anxiety, students should remember that pretest nerves are normal and can be a source of motivation to study for a test.

It is also important to get a good night’s sleep and eat breakfast before an exam period.

Positive self-talk and reminding oneself they are capable is the final element to achievement during test taking.

Pull said that while college courses should be taken seriously, students should remember grades are only one aspect in the pursuit of a professional career.

Traits such as generosity, respect for authority and “soft skills” are of great value in the workplace.

“In 100 years, no one will care that you earned a C in a course,” Pull said.

Students can do what they can to best prepare for a test, knowing that a bad grade is not a measure of self-worth.

Start studying early and review often. Put in considerable time but not just the night before an exam. Be positive, you’ve got this.

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