Academics,  Success

Overcome Test Anxiety In College – Scientifically Proven Tips

The cycle is always the same… Everything is going great! Life is good! Going to classes, getting the material together and creating a study guide. You feel confident and ready for the upcoming exam…

But then, someone says they heard that the professor is a hard grader, and that the exam is worth half of your grade! Additionally, it is a “weed out” course where no one actually passes the test, there is just a cut off where the higher “failures” get B’s or C’s and the rest are failed out so that students must transfer to other general majors!

Before you know it, you’re spending hours in the library cramming, not eating or sleeping, and you call your parents or friends often to tell them how you are going to fail this exam.

You are so distraught and exhausted that only your adrenaline keeps you awake through the examination! Your poor performance only reinforces your anxiety for the next test!!!

This ends today. I am going to show you how to overcome this for good with scientifically proven tips!

What is Anxiety and Why Do We Have It?

Anxiety is actually an amazing thing…in short amounts. The human brain and body have adapted for ultimate survival and anxiety is their warning system. This is great to protect us against threats because it keeps us alert and turns on all the right bodily functions that allow us to fight or flee effectively.

The big issue is that the adrenaline, increased heart rate, dry mouth, and other classic symptoms do not help us in everyday college life. There is no sense in anxiety for sitting in a classroom for an exam, and it does more harm than good.

Thankfully, there are proven methods to overcome and control one’s anxiety for better performance and a happier, stress free life!

Mindset: Believe and You CAN Achieve!

There is no rational reason behind exam fear or anxiety, and here is why!

An exam is a sheet of paper or a web page on a computer screen. At its most basic level, it can not jump up and endanger your life or harm you in any way. The fear and stress that you feel is self-induced. This means that since you created it, you can control it!!! GREAT NEWS!

The first step is to believe that you will get the grade you want/need, whatever it may be. Be confident that you will ace the test. EVEN IF YOU HAVE TO FAKE IT, lie to yourself that you will be just fine.

If you think, believe, and act a certain way for long enough, it will become real.

The second step is to stop all negative thoughts, statements, and people in their tracks!!! Catch yourself thinking or saying anything about how you might be unprepared or might get a poor grade, and reverse it by thinking or saying the opposite. It will feel weird at first, but you will train your subconscious mind to only accept success as a possibility!

The third step is to visualize yourself receiving the grade you want! Whether it is physically receiving the graded scantron or checking the grade online, visualize it happening as vividly as possible and seeing the grade that you want on the page or screen! Imagine how relieved and happy you will feel when you receive that grade! Do this three times a day with one being before bed!

Prepare For Competition!

A test or exam is just something asking you questions on material that you already know. It is a competition with yourself to see how much you can learn and retain on a given subject! You are in complete control with how much you can prepare, meaning you are in control of the outcome!

Not so scary when you realize how much power you have! Now it is time to take action!

The more prepared you feel for the exam, the less your anxiety will be. Check out my guide on studying and grind through the material ensuring that you ingrain the larger concepts! Then study and cram efficiently prior to the exam to put the little details into your short-term memory!

Come at it like a competition! You want to see just how good you can do, and how much you know! It is exciting, when you have visualized winning and put in the work preparing, to bring your dream into reality! Would you sit around with a ball, telling yourself how bad you will play, and then freak out when it’s game time? No! You would practice as much as you could, believe you can win, and then give it your all by playing your heart out! An exam is no different from a sports game in terms of how to conquer it!

Understand the Game! It is All A Point System

An exam consists of a series of questions, all worth a certain amount of points, that accumulate to make up a whole point value that is then converted into a percentage for your grade book.

Most of the time, a professor will provide the point values per question, and the point “worth” of the exam, either on the exam itself or in the syllabus! This is like the key to the castle. In most cases, you can calculate the exact number of questions you need to get correct to obtain the grade that you want/need. Then you can go through the exam knowing exactly how you are doing along the way.

Don’t let this intimidate you. Allow this to reassure you as you move through and provide positive pressure to win the game.

Most (multiple choice) questions can be broken down to a process of elimination, and always expect that the answer you choose will be right! Your subconscious mind and your “gut feeling” will help you!

Nourish Your Body The Right Way!

There are many foods that enhance mental performance, but also some that are proven to reduce feelings of anxiety!

I am not saying to go pig out, but strategically plan your meals and snacks in the days leading up to your exam. Foods such as avocados, blueberries, asparagus, salmon, walnuts, spinach, whole milk and even dark chocolate can improve brain function and reduce anxiety.

Eat balanced meals and drink plenty of water. Do not neglect any certain nutrient, and eat meals

containing a variety of colors with healthy meats and multiple vegetables.

You are preparing for battle and a competition of the mind. Why on earth would you fuel your brain and body with energy-sapping foods such as pizza, friend chicken and syrupy-sodas?!

Chew or Suck On a Peppermint

Enjoy a peppermint while studying and consume one before taking an exam as well. Peppermints can

improve mental focus and calm a person, allowing for maximum performance.

Additionally, having the same flavor mint or gum while studying and then again before the exam can enhance recall of information due to the brain’s habit of association.

Enjoy Nature and Exercise

As a study break, the worst thing you could do is ingest an information overload from social media. It literally pushes out a bunch of information that you just studied your brain commits the latest updates on a bunch of people into memory instead.

Social media also exhausts your eyes and your brains neural networks, making studying afterwards less effective.

Instead, enjoy nature! Nature can refresh the mind and increase mental performance! Take a walk or go run on a nearby trail. Getting your blood pumping and enjoying the outdoors is a huge boost

for your studying efforts.

Don’t have a way to go enjoy nature? Even looking at beautiful pictures of nature can benefit you! And exercise can be performed anywhere. A set of push-ups and some jumping jacks to get more blood flowing can do wonders!

Get Adequate Sleep in the Nights Leading up to the Exam!

Lack of sleep will lead to an increased stress-response in the body and subsequent increase in anxiety.

Sleep is so much more important than spending an extra few hours studying. Your brain commits information to memory during sleep, and so you will actually learn more and be better prepared by getting more sleep than your friends that spend all night in the library.

Conquer Your Anxiety and Go Crush Your Exam

Please read my posts on studying more effectively and my keys to college success!

Anxiety is a valuable response for survival, but not very effective for taking an exam. I hope with the tips from above that you will be able to better control your anxiety and boost your academic performance!

If you need more assistance or have any questions, please leave a comment below or send me an email!

Conquer College, Dominate Life

-Hudson, LikeTheRiver

I touch on many of these tips as well as others in my book on How To Conquer College!








  • Andiamolireforex

    Some good advice. I’m speaking as a teacher. I have a suggestion as far as developing study habits. There is a relatively new book out that features several peer-reviewed studies on how a process called mental contrasting can help improve discipline in several endeavors, including exam prep. It’s called “Rethinking Positive Thinking”. I think you and others will get a lot out of it. Let me know what you think about it.

    • Hudson

      Thank you for your insight! I looked into your recommendation and I am reading “Rethinking Positive Thinking” right now! So far it is both enjoyable and interesting! I love learning more about our minds and how motivation occurs. Not only can I expand on the lessons from this book to help others, but I can further develop myself as well, so thank you for bringing it to my attention!

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