It is a fact of life that exam stress happens. From the elementary student all the way up to the PhD student, this type of performance anxiety can at best cause some butterflies in the stomach and perhaps a sweat, and at worse be crippling. Fortunately, as with all types of anxiety, test anxiety can be alleviated in most people with just a few simple steps. While exam stress will not entirely disappear, it should get better.
While all types of tests can make some people nervous, there are times when certain tests can make things particularly bad. Midterms and finals are often when this anxiety can peak simply because these tests may be worth such a large portion of the student's grade. In those cases, months of studying come down to a test that may not last longer than an hour. It may also determine the difference between passing and failing. It will most certainly be worth a full letter grade either way. Other types of major tests, such as the SAT, GRE and ACT, which could determine college placement, and in some students' minds the course of their lives, can also be very nerve wracking.
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While things like homework stress may be part a student's normal day, exam stress may feel completely overwhelming. For those who know that they routinely feel such stress, the best thing to do is discuss these concerns with the teacher. Many times, the teacher will know strategies that can help with exam stress. Further, he or she may know a certain part of the room they can place the student where distractions and nervousness may be diminished.
One of the best remedies for exam stress is to study and know the material -- then convince yourself of that. Any material can be learned if enough time is dedicated to it. Even the most difficult of subjects can be mastered by most people with a normal IQ. The difference, for most students, is in the time it may take to master the material. Even the best test taker, however, will likely get nervous if they do not know the material.
Employing certain test-taking strategies is also helpful for those who must deal with exam stress. These strategies include, when possible, answering the questions you are most sure of first. Not only will this boost confidence, many students find exam stress is worse at the beginning of the test. Starting with what you are sure you know may be of great benefit in such situations.
Remember, on the night before the test, to get plenty of rest and eat a good meal before the test. Nothing can promote bad thoughts like being exhausted or hungry. Therefore, making sure to take care of yourself before the test is a key to doing better on the test. Keeping things positive, from a personal needs point of view, can only work to your advantage with the stress factor.