How to Ditch Test Anxiety on Exam Day

(Psst–this is Part 4 in a 4-part series on overcoming test anxiety. )

Create an exam day routine to capitalize on your strengths, get you in the mood, and crush your test anxiety.

In our last post, we discussed how aligning your mind and body is mission critical to supercharge your exam crushing prowess. If you’ve been following along this series, at this point you’re prepped, your mind is in the right spot, and your anxieties are calmed. Can we just take a sec to appreciate how awesome possum this is? Yesss!

Now there’s just one last itsy bitsy element left to shred your test anxiety and throw a confetti party for your bad self: exam day.

(Sorry–we did not mean to make it sound that ominous.)

Exam day is the party you’ve been getting ready for! This is awesome for a million reasons from the cheesy dad jokes, “It wouldn’t be test anxiety without the test“, to the wounded soldier cry, “Look how far I’ve come!” And from the cynical, “At least it will be over“, to the joyous, “I get to show my mastery!” with pom-poms and all.

We want you soaring into your exam room cool and confident in your ability to march through whatever crazy problems are thrown at you. And you just can’t do that if you’re pulling all-nighters, fueled by fumes, letting nervousness from other students rub off on you, or showing up with no proven exam or engineering problem-solving strategy no matter what you’ve done so far. We like you way to much to let that happen to you so we’ll break down the key components needed to two-step through this last leg.

The 24 hours before your exam are your time to dial your frequency in to test confidence and exam slaying greatness. Here are the 5 elements of a anxiety-destroying exam routine that will ensure you level up on your next test.

1Sleep the night before your exam

Easier said than done, right?

Pre-exam sleep is always elusive. For years before each test day, Lacy would tell herself that she was super tired, go to bed, and toss and turn until she had to get up in the morning. (In the end, I think I was saved by all the full night’s rest I had the weeks leading up to an exam, but my world really became much clearer once I figured out how to get some pre-test shut eye.)

And, if you thought you could escape our crazy hippy instructions to relax your nervous system in the last post, you’re not in the clear yet. We’re reaching back in our yoga backpack.

If you’re struggling going to sleep, set your device on its lowest brightness level and join in a bedtime routine to get you sleeping fast.

2Eat breakfast

We know, we know, intermittent fasting is all the rage and is solving all of the world’s problems one missed meal at a time. (The benefits are for another post.)

That said, you can make a single day exception to your breakfast skipping because the research is pretty clear on this one: eat a nutritious breakfast before an exam.

Thinking takes serious energy, and we both hope you do a lot of that during your exam. Just don’t give yourself a food coma by eating a total gut bomb, and don’t eat sugar so that midway through the exam you crash. Be reasonable and nutritious.

3Avoid distractions before the exam (including other students!)

The biggest buzz kill to breaking free from test anxiety is when you show up to an exam with plenty of time and Negative Ned starts talking to you about how hard this is gonna be. Your morale plunges, your confidence tanks, and you turn into a complete wreck after all that mind shifting goodness goes out the window. What to do?

Still show up to your exam early, but instead of going directly to the exam location, go to the next building over or a different floor. Go to wherever is close to your exam but where you can hide out with your badass, exam-crushing, confident self. (And maybe not the bathroom. It’s hard to feel like a super hero in a bathroom.)

Admittedly, it sounds a little crazy to hide out, but you owe it to yourself to not lose your nerves in the 11th hour. Steer clear of the crazies. Just before exam time, walk in with your eyes on the prize and don’t chat with anyone. You can grab your favorite beverage after you slay your exam.

4Start with an exam work plan

When the exam starts, don’t make the same mistake as the other students and launch in with problem one, hoping for the best. Instead, take a minute to create a game plan to score as many points as possible. Creating a quick exam work plan will also remove the unknown and help keep you as cool as a cucumber and free up your grey matter.

Learn how to create a 2-minute exam work plan that will maximize your exam grade—any exam grade.

5Use a proven problem-solving strategy

Finally, you need to problem solve like a champ and reward yourself for mini-wins. There’s nothing that will take the wind out of your test confidence sails like getting stuck in an exam rabbit hole, wasting time without racking up any points, not knowing how to efficiently hack points in the first place, and then berating yourself about it.

Efficient point hacking and positive-reinforcement takes a little practice and strategy. This isn’t the time to wing a new strategy or make one up on the fly. It’s go time, and you need a tried and true problem-solving knockout champion.

Learn the Minimum Viable Solution (MVS) framework to maximize your points and minimize your frustration. The MVS framework will rocket your exam grade and confidence, staving off test anxiety all the way through your next marathon exam.

That’s it! You’ve made it! Overcoming test anxiety might seem overwhelming at first, but its path is made up of totally doable steps. You can definitely learn how to prep, reboot your mind, calm your nerves, and problem solve with the best of them. You can beat this exam anxiety.

Where are you at in this exam anxiety dance? Share your tips with us.

You got this!
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