How to Overcome Your Fear of Tests

Franklin Delana Rousevelt once said: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” And he was right. You absolutely have the power to conquer it so that you can get on with your life-or your chemical exam.

Let me share a story with you. I once saw a documentary on a famous singer a few years back then. The camera followed her as she went to rehearsal, got made up, and talked to her manager. Then there came a scene that I’d never forget as she waited backstage to be announced–She looked very nervous, sweat were dripping down from her forehead, I bet she was began to feel regretful to have ever stepped into show business. But the magic happened when the DJ called her name and the roar of applause burst out. She walked into the stage with a firm gait, smile, and took over the microphone, and looked anything but frightened. When her singing voice filled the hall, the audience literally went wild. So what can we take it from here? If an experienced singer like her was petrified and still passed the test, why shouldn’t you?

Let’s explore even further why we are so scared of tests. We hate it ( most people do, trust me ), because we don’t want to fail. If we fail, we disappoint someone, either parents or yourself. Then you know the fact that within next couple of hours, your grades will be determined by what you write ( or don’t write ) on tests paper, or which box we fill in with our 2B pencil. The more important the test it, the more anxious we are. But generally we have nothing to worry about as long as we study/prepare well, and stay focused during the test. Tests are competitive in nature, we either rise to the occasion when the pressure seems overwhelming, or got beaten down by it. The real strength that lies within us has nothing to do with our IQ. You need to realize that the most clever students in your class may be even more stressed out than you are.

Sometimes, ironically, it is not the fear of failure, but fear of success. You don’t want to do well on purpose, because you think that if you do, parents will expect more out of you next time, so you are forced to live up to your reputation every time! Here is a word of advice: You are going to have to deal with both types of pressure anyway, so you might as well learn to tackle the good kine (“good work Andy, keep it up, I am so proud of you!) rather than the bad kind (“I have no idea why my child doesn’t put much effort in school. I might need to be stricter from now on. No more TV.”)

Be careful of those friends who give you a buzz the night before the exam to wail,”Hey, I just discover that all we have to do to score the test is to focus on chapter 6 only!” Don’t fall for it. Instead of dialing 911, calmly remind them that the teacher only covers from chapter 1 to chapter 5. Of course if you don’t bother to find out what will be appearing on the test in the first place, a call like this will make you panic, and leads you to astray.) Some people thrive on their own misery, and are jealous if you don’t feed on it. They want to suck you into their gloom, whether you really know or care what’s happening. They might scream, “Dear God, I will never going to understand all of these mumbo-jumbo!” If they’d transfer that energy into study, they might.

When a test is looming, ask yourself a few questions that will lower your level of anxiety, such as:

  • Which area will the exams cover?
  • How many points will each different type of question give?
  • What stationery should I bring along like calculator?
  • How much time should I allocate according to the difficulty of the questions? – and so on.

To know the answers of all of these questions, It’s best to simulate a test on your own beforehand with some old, pass year test papers taken from teachers, library, or senior students. Practice makes perfect.

Finally, if you feel like you need to release some steam, drop down the book, do something else. Maybe take a walk outside, do some exercise, talk on the phone for a few minutes. ( No computer games or TV which actually consumes your brain energy even more.) Don’t think the advice loses its power at the classroom doors. Whenever you feel overwhelmed, take a rest. Such timeouts can be restroom stop, or just lean back and take a deep breath. No matter what the due time is or pressures, don’t feel you can least afford such a privilege. Just like those who need to learn time management skills “just don’t have the time” to learn them. If you are still stressed out, try to have a little perspective: Many years from now, no one will remember or care how you did on any test, even how important you feel the test is ( which is the truth ). I have a friend who signed up for a law school twice at the same time on accident. The first time, he did “so-so, not ok”. And he gave up the notion to become a lawyer. But why waste the second test since he already paid for it anyway. So, he took the test again with nothing particular in mind. And guess what, he did much better this time without extra preparation. Do you sense something here now?

No matter what the techniques you apply, the more you have faith in it, the more it’s likely to work. Always have a positive thinking. Keep telling yourself you are as prepared as anyone else and are going to ace the test, and the rest is already taken care of.