Keeping test anxiety under control during finals

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Josh Gurnee, sophomore in life science, studies on the fourth floor of Hale Library during dead week on Dec. 10, 2015. (Miranda Snyder | The Collegian)

With December comes the excitement of the holiday season, but one of the merriest months of the year is also one of most dreaded for college students.

Finals week adds stress to an already hectic time of the year, and time for sleep is scarce. Students spend every possible moment finishing end-of-semester projects and studying for exams.

Exams can bring even more stress to students who have test anxiety. According to the K-State Counseling Services’ website, experiencing anxiety before a test is normal, but excess stress can lead to making silly mistakes and going “blank” when trying to answer test questions.

Alex Wilhelm, senior in elementary education, said he has experienced anxiety before a test, but that the key to beating it is to plan ahead so you’re better prepared.

“Don’t cram for tests,” Wilhelm said. “Try to study at least 24 hours before in case something comes up.”

CollegeAtlas.org’s article, “Test taking strategies for college midterms and finals,” also has some tips and test-taking strategies to help combat stress and make exams less intimidating. Try deep breathing exercises, which calm nerves and help clear your mind.

According to the article, eating protein-rich food on test day instead of drinking caffeine helps because caffeine leads to a caffeine crash, while protein gives you the energy needed to concentrate for longer periods of time.

The best way to decrease anxiety is to study hard and feel well-prepared, the article said. This makes you more confident on test day, which may keep you from second-guessing yourself.

While taking the test, you should also try to focus all of your attention on what you are doing. Try not to be distracted by how much time is left or by the shuffle of people finishing early. It only leads to more anxiety.

Wilhelm said he agrees that studying hard can definitely help with any nerves you may be feeling prior to an exam, but cautions that just reading something does not mean you have learned it.

“Be sure to look over the study guide and quiz yourself,” Wilhelm said. “And make sure to get plenty of sleep the night before.”

According to the Counseling Services’ website, chewing gum also provides a distraction from the nerves. Utilizing positive thoughts and doing the easier questions first can also help give you that much-needed confidence boost.

Buckle down and get ready because that dreaded time of the year is here. Stay positive and remember that it is only one week. It will all be over soon, and it will be time for break before you even know it.

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