How to Beat Test Anxiety and Take on Exams Without Stress


– This video is brought
to you by Snorlax, Kronk, and that one chicken
from the movie Surf’s Up. Three dudes who
never let the stress of adversity get
to them too much. Actually, Snorlax just kind
of sleeps through adversity. Anyway, test anxiety,
let’s talk about it, and then let’s do our
best to destroy it. The time leading up
to a test is so laden with stress and
anxiety because tests are high-pressure
situations, and high-pressure situations can actually
deplete your working memory, and reduce your performance. This is commonly
called “choking,” and it’s common to all types
of high-pressure situations, not just academic ones. Now, it’s important to note
that a little bit of stress and a little bit of fear can
actually be a good thing. Stress heightens our senses,
it brings out our best. Like the famous
radio broadcaster Edward R. Murrow once said, Without any stress at all,
we’d just be apathetic. Stress means you care. Too much, though,
and your health and your performance
start to suffer. So, today, I wanna
help you mitigate some of the stress and fear
that’s caused by your exams. And specifically, I wanna focus
in on three main fears that I think all students have when
exams are around the corner. Number one: the
Fear of the Unknown. Number two: the
Fear of Inadequacy, the feeling that
you’re unprepared and not ready for
the challenge ahead. And, number three: the
Fear of the Stakes, the feeling that everything
is riding on this test, and that your life will
basically be over if you fail. And, actually, now
that I think about it, there are a couple of
other worries that I think most students probably
face, but I wanna wait until the end of the video
to briefly touch on those. First, let’s talk about
these three big ones, and then go over
some specific things you can do to reduce the
stress caused by each of them. So, let’s talk about our
first fear, skeletons. Er, I mean, uh, the
Fear of the Unknown. So, really, the
best way to conquer the fear of the unknown
is to make the test as much of a known
quantity as possible. Do your best to make
that test feel like a familiar old
friend when you walk into the class and face
it down on test day. Now, there are three
main ways to do this that I wanna go
over in this video, and the first one is
to simply recreate the test conditions as best
you can when you’re studying. This means actually
going to the location in which you’ll be tested,
and if it’s your classroom, I don’t really think
sitting in class every day really counts, because it
doesn’t really recreate the high-pressure
situation of the test. So, go there during
the off hours. Even if the room’s
empty, take a desk, sit down, and try to
do some active studying while you’re in the actual
room you’ll be tested in. Don’t stop at location
either, try to recreate the time constraints,
and maybe even the type of questions
you’ll be quizzed over, and basically make it a dry run that doesn’t really have the
high stakes of the actual test so that when you actually
do take that test, it’s as if you’ve
already done it. But, you might be asking
me, “How do I actually “recreate these test conditions “if I don’t know what’s
gonna be on the test?” And that leads
into my second tip: Ask your professor. A lot of students make the
mistake of assuming that if the professor didn’t
readily give out information in class about the test,
that they’re unwilling to give it out if asked. This isn’t always the case,
so if there are aspects of your exam that you’re
unclear on, ask your professor. You could ask them
about the format, what types of questions
you’ll be asked, true/false, multiple
choice, essay style, how long you’ll actually
have to complete the test, and what sort of materials are
allowed in the testing room. And my final tip for getting
to know the test ahead of time is to look for old tests,
a lot of fraternities, sororities and other
student organizations maintain test banks that you
might be able to look through. And if you don’t have access
to anything like that, there’s sites like koofers.com which maintain
their own databases. Our second big
fear to conquer is the feeling of inadequacy,
the feeling that you’re unprepared for the challenges
that the test presents. And, honestly, the best
thing you can do here is simply to prepare,
like the famous marathoner Juma Ikangaa once said, that: So, use the other
tactics in your arsenal the discipline hacks,
the planning techniques, and make sure that
throughout the semester you’re working
diligently, so that way when you get to the weeks
leading up to the test, you don’t have a whole
lot of catching up to do. You’ve been preparing
the whole time. Like, if you’ve ever
seen a Rocky movie, my favorite part is actually
the training montage, because that’s the
stuff he has to do in order to win the fight. Your entire semester is
your training montage and if you don’t use it
correctly, then the test is not gonna go well for
you, it’s just that simple. But let’s talk about
those couple of weeks going up to the test, whatever
you did during the semester, revision is really important
and there’s a couple of things you can do to make
it go more smoothly. Number one is to go through
your notes and the other materials you got throughout
the semester and see what areas of the material that
you’re not really clear on. Know your gaps,
that will allow you to focus most
efficiently on the facts and concepts you really need
to solidify in your mind and not waste too much
time going over stuff you’re already pretty clear on. Additionally, you
can create something that the author Walter Pott
calls a home stretch schedule. This is a more detailed
schedule that you probably don’t need to break out
during the earlier days in the semester, but
in the couple of weeks leading up to a test,
it can be really useful. So on this schedule, you wanna
make sure you block out time for your set obligations
like class and work, and also for the more mundane
things you take for granted, like eating and sleeping,
because these are very important when you’re studying for finals. But then you actually wanna
block out time for studying. That way, when you
create that list of gaps and the material you
need to go through, you know when you’re
gonna actually study it. Also, when you’re revising for
tests, it’s doubly important that you study actively,
like if you’re just passively going through your
notes and textbooks, you’re wasting a lot
of precious time. So, make quizzes for
yourself, and make sure you’re having to actively
recall information and pull it out of your brain. Now, what if you
tried your hardest to prepare throughout
the semester, and revise efficiently,
and you still just don’t feel confident
about your ability to do the test well? Well, I’ve got a
couple of suggestions to ease that fear,
and the first one is to simply act
confident, tell yourself that you’re gonna
do well on the test. Whenever I go into
a new situation where I feel a little
bit unprepared, I just tell myself
that I’m gonna do well. I might not, but there’s no
reason to worry about it, so I just give myself
the confidence. You can do this too, and
there’s also one other thing you can do to ease your
worries before a test. And this is actually
backed up by science. So, a study done by the
University of Chicago actually showed that
students with test anxiety were able to raise
their test grades by simply taking 10
minutes before the exam to write out their
worries, to air ’em out. So if you’re feeling anxious
about a test, try this. Show up a little bit
early for the test, pull out a piece of scrap paper, and write out why
exactly you’re worried. This pulls it out of your
brain, puts it on paper, puts it aside, and lets your
brain focus on the actual test. Science. And the final worry we’re
gonna go over in this video is the fear of the stakes,
the fear that this test is the be-all, end-all,
the determining factor in who you’re gonna be, and
where you’re gonna get in life. And, I just wanna
tell you, it’s not. One test does not
define you, and in fact, your grades don’t define you. If you’ve ever read my blog post on the Student Success Triangle, you’ll know that
academic performance is really just one
point of the triangle. The other ones are
value creation and
relationship building. And if you’re putting
in effort in these areas as well as your
academic performance, one test is not
going to ruin you. You can think of your
test in the same way that I think of job interviews. When I’ve gone on
interviews in the past, I don’t think of
it as an audience with this all-powerful
arbiter who decides whether or not I get to
stay in my mom’s basement for the rest of my life. No, it’s just a
conversation between two individuals who
wanna figure out if they can provide
value for each other. Think of your test the same way, it’s just one examination
of a small body of knowledge you’ve learned over a set
period of time, that’s it. But, also, feed off of
some of that pressure. Find your center,
generate some confidence, and let that pressure
hone your senses. Let it make you stronger
rather than weaker. Now, let’s briefly touch
on those two final worries that I alluded to earlier, the
first one is perfectionism. A lot of students feel like
they have to do absolutely perfect on an exam, and I just
wanna tell you, you don’t. The writer and speaker
Scott Berkun once said, This should be your
mindset going into a test. Know your goals, work
as hard as you can, but don’t expect absolute
perfection from yourself. It’s unhealthy. And, the last worry
is past failures. If we fail one time, we
tend to see a trend forming and we think we’re
gonna fail again. This is due to something called the Negativity Bias, which
I’ll talk about more in-depth in a future video,
but basically, we tend to put more weight
on negative experiences. The thing to realize here
though is that the outcome of any particular
situation is determined by the factors
that went into it, so if you change the factors,
you can change the result. Change the way you
study and prepare, it’ll change the grade
you get on a test. So, that’s it for this video,
and once again I have to leave you with a quote from the
roman poet Horace, who said, Hopefully, the tips here
have helped to quell some of the anxiety you’re
feeling about your tests, and if you’re looking
for more tips on how to do better on your exams, well, I have a couple
of suggestions. Number one, I made a video
at the end of last semester on how to ace your exams,
and you can click right there to watch it, and also
if you’re looking for some specific techniques to
use during the actual test, my friend Simon Clark,
who’s a Youtuber from the UK made his own video, and you
should check it out right there. Also, you should probably
just subscribe to him. He makes good stuff. That’s all I’ve got, and
if you have additional tips that I didn’t cover here,
feel free to leave ’em down in the comments for
other students to see. And thanks so much for
watching this video. (fast-paced synth music) Hey guys, thanks for
checking out my video on test anxiety, if you enjoyed
it, you can leave a like so other students can
find it more easily. And also, you can get new videos on being a more efficient
student every single week by hitting the big red
Subscribe button right there. If you wanna
improve your grades, I wrote an entire
book on the subject and it’s actually free, so
if you wanna get your copy, just click the
picture of the book. You can find a summary and
links to anything I’ve mentioned in the companion blog
post for this video which you’ll find by going to
the orange logo right there. If you missed last week’s
video, there’s a clip of it playing, so
definitely check it out. And also, if you wanna
connect or have questions or ideas for new videos, you
can leave a comment below or connect with me on Twitter,
and speaking of Twitter, here’s one final bonus
tip for test anxiety that I posted on my
Twitter page yesterday. Thanks for watching.

About the author

Comments

  1. I remember a girl I used to know in college who would be so stressed before exams that her hands would be shaking. And I mean her hands would start shaking days before the exam even was to take place lol.

  2. A new subscriber and i have just watched this video and my first final for this semester is tomorrow morning!! 😕 not sure if it could help right now 😅 anyway thank for such videos although i haven't watched them all yet, i know they will be helpful for my next semester.

  3. As an architecture student I am mostly anxious about the lessons in which i am examined via projects instead of the written examination :c In written exams if you study and pay attention in class most likely you'll do great but in projects you can put crazy hours of work into them and the professor could hate them xD

  4. I don't know how I came to this channel but now… I'm here stay!! And I have really bad test anxiety… So i better stay.

  5. I have anxiety in general, I could never avoid getting stressed during tests or whatever.
    It's okay. I'll figure it out. I'll now listen to ya, the video just a c t u a l l y started.

  6. What about tests required for someone to get into a particular field? For instance, someone who is going to be an insurance agent must pass a test or someone trying to be a teacher must past a test before student teaching?

  7. You're like an older brother giving those with no older siblings or someone to ask a helpful hand. Thank you so much 🙂

  8. I'm here watching this video the night before the test I'm really stressed about it but i revised a little bit but not that much

  9. Thank you so much for you're video. I have the worse Test anxiety and I actually ending up failing but with your helps actually helped me I have a test Monday I will let you know how it goes

  10. my biggest worry annoyingly is bc of catastrophic thinking…i keep imagining the worst that could happen (like NOT doing the paper at all) i can't :((((((((

  11. Has this guy got a psychology degree or something? Been watching a few of his videos throughout the day and the amount of psychological evidence and terms he uses is actually aiding my revision for my psychology exams 😂

  12. I'm not a college student but I'm currently studying for my ASVAB it a military Aptitude test that determines if I'm eligible to join the military and what jobs I can have so it's alot of stress

  13. I have an admission test, It's really hard to learn math by myself, and it actually will determine where I am for the next year. Good thing is that I will probably not need a super high score to get in the school, so I'm guessing I got an 85% success chance. Last day of studying tomorrow, and then some rehearse right before the test.

  14. Okay i need help right now, someone needs to calm me down or i will have a heart attack.
    So I had a very bad semester, I was really sick for the first couple months, plus I have insomnia so I didn't attend a lot of classes. It's finals time now, I have already had 2 exams (they went fairly well) but I have these two REALLY hard finals next week. I am completely unprepared because this week I kept throwing up and being sick and slept very very little. I started reading the course for one of the exams and I am totally out of my depth here. It's now 4 AM, I am tired and my heart feels like it's about to explode. I don't know how I will deal, I usually have confidence because I am a good student, but everything is so messed up now, and I can't afford to slip up and fail two finals. Please any advice would help, I am borderline going insane

  15. Thanks for this video! (I know I'm late lol) One thing I do in exams – usually math (I'm in year 9) I kinda just think of it as just another worksheet. Just forget it's an exam and just treat is as random classwork. It helped me a lot.

  16. Thanks so much for that ! I'm a little bit late with me watching this after my exam . I freak out every single test and that affects my marks pretty hard . I usually study very little because I remember things from the class but as soon as I enter the hall , my brain keeps telling me ' you didn't study well and you're not going to get good scores ' and that makes me look at the question paper think ' yeah , well I really should have studied ' . But when the exam's up and I look at the question paper again , I know every answer ! I tried to get rid of this by telling my mind that yes, I have prepared and by actually studying but my anxiety of 'not knowing anything ' doesn't go away . What do I do ?

  17. I once met the local news reporter at a 711 and he went up to the counter to pay and I took his money and gave it back to him, and he realized and said I gave you a $20 I need a 5 back and I gave him a ten all while never leaving his eyes. I got it eventually but I was frozen for a good 5 mins.

  18. I wished my countrie's system of education was like that, with finals, everything goes wrong when you have exams every week.

  19. Thanks Thomas Sir!! Tomorrow is my Mathematics exam.I was very afraid that I will do bad in the best. But now after seeing your video, I am totally relaxed. You have earned my subscription.

  20. I taught high school and college for 25  years (including AP Psych), and these videos are fantastic! You've taken everything I ever told a student and it's here!

  21. I'm on Winter Break right now





    Why Am I watching this?
    (*Just kidding. I start a new semester on Jan. 8*) ☺

  22. Thank you very much for making such amazing videos! You've given me the motivation to become a completely different person now. I have a small problem, I don't know how many others are facing it but I am getting great grades when I'm at home but when I go to college I can't help but get distracted. I sometimes feel disturbed because of some of the loud buch in my class. Is there any book or video of your's that'll help me overcome this problem?

  23. Great videos! I accidentally came to one of your videos, watched a few and before I knew it I was already downloading your book and subscribing to your channel. Great tips and awesome delivery. Keep up the good work and you will for sure get your goal number of subscribers. 🙂

  24. soo i wrote a test i failed.. had another chance i studied really hard and i wasn't stressed at all, i answered all the questions but they were all wrong i failed twice, and i have such a negativity about this subject that im going to fail it everytime..

  25. Can you please do a video on how when in an exam, the techniques you can do to stop panicking while in that very stressful situation?

  26. I love your channel man!!! Btw, my strategy for any test is just to aim for a perfect score. That helps me boost my test grades. I used to just take tests for the heck of it without care. That’s why my test scores in college were lower than I wanted. Since last year, I’ve strategized on “Aim for the perfect score” on tests. Even though I don’t get perfect test scores every time, but it definitely helps. To prove it, I’ve taken an exam where I didn’t study at all because I was busy unfortunately. Fortunately, I got a C in it because I had the confidence to aim for the perfect score on the test. So instead of worrying about failing the test because I lacked studying, I just aimed for the perfect score instead and tried my best. It works for me, however, everyone is different.

  27. you should configure the subtitles so that people who watch your videos and know other languages ​​can add subtitles in other languages ​​and so people who may not know English can watch your videos.

  28. There. You said it. Working diligently throughout the semester. I didn't do that. I slacked off all semester and now I'm foolishly lazing around when my finals are next week. Last minute studying is a really bad idea. Work needs to be carried progressively, not all at once while preparing for finals. I'll still try to save this semester… even though I'm already burned out.

  29. I really hope this helps me, I have my SAT's soon, and I've got a whole week of all test in front of me. And it also annoy's me of how worried I get, but I get a good score.

  30. Today i had my maths test, i felt i was totally prepared for it and was looking forward to it because i have had maths anxiety my whole school life but this year i did try to give it my best shot but the moment i started writing my test today i felt like i was going to collapse it was all black infront of my eyes and i couldnt solve a single question properly. I messed up all the solutions and had a nervous break down after the test was finished. We had 45 min to solve 8 questions and then when i came back home and sat calm and quiet and then set the timer for 45 min yo solve the question paper i solved all questions in like 25 min i was surprised and they were all correct too and then i was like i really need to calm my self or i'll keep messing up my test the same way i did today and this video has given me some tips to do so.

  31. Steaks!!!! 😂😂 Love your sense of humour! Great video btw, really helpful now that my finals are approaching! This is my favorite channel on youtube!

  32. Nice video, we are using it in a freshman seminar. One suggestion. At around the 2:50 mark, you say: "“and my final tip for getting to know the test ahead of time is to look for old tests. A lot of fraternities, sororities and other student organizations maintain test banks that you might be able to look through. And if you don’t have access to anything like that, there’s sites like Koofers.com which maintain their own databases". On my campus, and many others, giving or receiving copies of an exam without the permission of the instructor is defined as "cheating", and is a violation of student codes of conduct. It is okay to ask the instructor for example questions or practice tests, and they may provide past exams. However, the resources you are suggesting are likely not authorized by the instructor, and using them could have significant consequences.

  33. Tomorrow I have a French test and I’m so lucky that the school hour before the test the teacher is in my class. That hour I am allowed to do homework, learn and just focus on any school subject (falling into the category of languages and mathematics). Which mean I can take that hour to recall anything and write down my worries.

  34. “The best speakers know enough to be scared, the only difference between the pros and the novices, is the pros have trained the butterflies to fly in formation.” 🌟🌟🌟

  35. When I enter the examination, about midway through the exam (talking about finals and half yearly etc.) I feel the urge to go to the urinal even if I don’t drink water before the exam. I really takes away my concentration and wastes my time.
    Once I couldn’t write about 10 marks worth of questions in a maths exam because of the same problem;the examiners didn’t allow me to go at first and by the time they allowed, I fell short of time to complete the exam even though I knew the correct solutions.
    Any solution/suggestions?
    Thanks

  36. My problem is timed tests, especially tests that require problem solving. I can study extensively, but I absolutely choke on my math and programming tests because I don't have enough time to think about and understand the problems. The limited time forces me to rush, and I make alot of careless mistakes and end up having to spend even more time correcting my mistakes. This especially doesn't help when the professors throw you curve ball questions on the exam that literally require you to take your time and think. Why is it not enough for me to demonstrate that I understand the subject? Why does speed have to be a factor when I'm being tested? Speed comes with extensive experience and mastery, which if I had that I wouldn't be in school. I do well on my assignments but when it comes to testing, I feel absolutely helpless.

  37. I have 40 days to prepare for an entrance exam for medical school and I'm too paralyzed with fear and regret.

  38. I must say it really helped me to get rid of my stress, there is a test tomorrow for me and before this video i was Horrified that I'll fail but this video really helped me and i feel more prepared, I don't expect perfection although it would be nice to see an A+ on that paper but now i feel less scared so i don't care, basically I can't thank you enough for that video.

  39. Lol my fce exam is next week and i just realised it. My teacher told me that i just had to improve my articles/emails/reviews writing, but i'm still not feeling confident even after she told me that i'm going to pass it easily

  40. I can't tell you how much this helps me feel better about my tests. I'm good at math. I always have been. Then I took calculus. The only time I did poorly was tests, when it mattered. I'm totally adding some of these.

  41. Good luck to all those with exams coming up! I just did a video on re-purposing exam nerves if you think it might help.

  42. Literally have a math exam next Thursday, if I get a D then I will fail the course, so if I get an A I will get a high B. Going to start studying tomorrow wish me the best of luck, currently a college student and I’m a horrible test taker.

  43. Anyone else shake super bad during tests or quizzes? My hands can barley grasp my pencil because I shake so bad

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