5 Easy Ways of Reducing Test Anxiety

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You may have test anxiety if you experience some mental and physical difficulties when it comes time to take the test. You may be restless, forgetful, have a headache, nausea, or abnormal heart rhythms, among other test anxiety effects. Or let’s say you are an instructor, parent or counselor that wishes to help a student with test anxiety. By reading this article you can introduce new ways of reducing test anxiety that are easy to remember and use.

#1: Breathe

Your breathing connects with your emotional state and physiological arousal. You can use this to help with reducing test anxiety. On the day of the test, you can use a breathing technique for anxiety to calm yourself down.

The simplest technique only requires that you breathe out slowly. When you do so, your in-breath will lengthen to match the out-breath. Here you can also use a visualization technique for double effectiveness. Picture yourself blowing a big balloon with the breath from your lungs. You can feel the contact of the balloon on your lips and the tension as it expands and stretches.

Deep breathing like this can slow your heartbeat and help stabilize your blood pressure. You can use it anytime you feel stressed, especially on your test days. 

reducing test anxiety breath-woman
Your breathing becomes deeper

#2: Upgrade your diet

Reducing test anxiety can be affected greatly by your diet. You can follow a healthy, balanced diet for best results.

First, you can feel free to cut down on caffeine. Caffeine, like we mention here, increases symptoms of anxiety. Second, keep this in mind. Just like you feed your pets specially formulated food to keep them active and healthy, you can feed yourself the optimal food for humans. Complex carbohydrates keep your blood sugar level even throughout the day, so be sure to eat those. Complex carbohydrates include sweet potatoes, whole grain oatmeal, and lentils. They also increase serotonin levels in the brain, which has a calming effect. Simple carbohydrates like sugar or white bread spike your blood sugar. This makes you temporarily feel good and then crash in energy over time.

The brain needs enough protein to fuel its neurotransmitters, which are made out of amino acids. You can get lots of protein without eating meat from nuts, beans and soy. Eating a more protein rich meal will make you feel more alert afterwards.

#3: Get Sleep

Test anxiety effects increase with lost sleep. UC Berkeley researchers found that sleep loss leads to anxiety and poor food choices. The emotion centers of the brain fail to work properly when someone is sleep deprived. Also, students in their teens need even more sleep than adults to feel rested and refreshed.

For a good night’s sleep, you can avoid caffeine after 12, exercise, and reduce blue light exposure at night.  Blue LEDs suppress melatonin, which leads to sleep difficulty. There are many apps you can use to tint your screens to a warmer hue at night for better sleep. These include Night Shift for iOS, F.Lux on PC or Twilight for Android.

reducing test anxiety sleep-pug-woman
Your pets can rest with you too

#4: Meditate

Meditation continues to amaze scientists as they learn more about it. It proves to be highly effective in reducing test anxiety. In particular, meditation lowers stress and anxiety. Researchers found that meditation improved brain function in areas of the brain that controlled worrying. 

Meditation is easy and natural for you. You can meditate by relaxing your body and focusing on your breath. Mindfulness meditation like this gradually builds a stronger brain over time. You can start small with five minutes of practice and increase from there.

#5: Visualize

Reducing test anxiety can be so easy once you learn to visualize. This study demonstrated that basketball players that visualized themselves taking free throws improved their shot accuracy by 23%. Many athletes use visualization to increase confidence before an event. You can do the same thing. Here’s an example. Imagine arriving early to the exam hall. The lighting is bright and fills you with energy. You feel safe and secure taking the test as you confidently mark down answers. The room’s air conditioning feels so great against your skin. By visualizing the exam before it happens, you can mentally prepare yourself for it. 

You can also visualize a less stressful situation if your test anxiety gets bad on the test day. When you start to feel stressed, you can visualize the following. Imagine you are floating effortlessly near the shore in crystal-clear water. The water and air warm your body as you remain relaxed and calm, not a care in the world. You can hear the gentle calls of seagulls and the sloshing of the waves as they move in and out. The more detail you accept, the more relaxed you will become. You can use techniques like this on the day of the test to calm down.


Now that you have read this article, you already feel calmer and more confident. Testing anxiety no longer plagues you like it did and you can let go of it easily and effortlessly. By practicing these tips you will gain control of your own body and mind and you will be reducing test anxiety.

You can read our Ultimate SAT Guide for high school students or our GRE guide for college students. 

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