3 Ways to Decrease Test Anxiety

I’m taking “the” test of my graduate career in a month and a half. To say that I feel anxiety over it is an understatement. So, I thought this was an excellent topic for the blog. I have always had problems with test anxiety. My first real memory of anxiety during a test occurred as early as elementary school. Anxiety is common for many students. Anxiety is also major part of getting into graduate school, with various placement and entrance exams like the GRE. Anxiety is also a major aspect of graduate school as a whole, certainly during major exams and presentations.

Robert of LSATFreedom and David Greenberg of Parliament Tutors offer some advice for coping with anxiety on test day. As someone with a psychology background, I absolutely agree with the advice they provide. In addition, I’d like to add: Sleep. Fatigue exacerbates the feelings associated with anxiety.


For many students, the biggest obstacle to a good test score – whether on the GMAT, LSAT, or any other big exam — is psychological.  Dealing with anxiety and stress can be crippling for many students, particularly on life-shaping exams.  Below are 3  proven ways to ease your anxiety on these types of standardized tests.

1) Watch What You Consume

Drinking alcohol is a common way to deal with stress, and, in low doses, alcohol has the effect of lowering anxiety levels.  However, turning to alcohol to reduce anxiety is a bad idea, which is a fact recognized by experts in the field. Likewise, drug use, particularly depressants such as marijuana, can be tempting ways to deal with anxiety and stress. However, these substances inhibit brain activity and will lower your potential on the actual exam. Anxiety caused by marijuana is a disease all to itself as well.  This is a treacherous path for many people; don’t be tempted.

2) Exercise

Exercise is a powerful way to relieve anxiety.   By expelling your excess negative emotions and adrenaline through physical activity, you can enter a more relaxed, calm state of being from which to deal with the issues and conflicts that are causing your test anxiety.  Exercise is one of the most important coping mediums to combat anxiety and stress, and often overlooked by students maximizing study time.  It is important to do this regularly, so your anxiety does not accumulate.

Exercise increases blood flow to the brain, releases hormones, stimulates the nervous system, and increases levels of morphine-like substances found in the body (such as beta-endorphin) that can have a positive effect on mood.  Exercise may trigger a neurophysiological high, which is a shot of adrenaline or endorphins, that produces an anti-depressant effect in some, an anti-anxiety effect in others, and a general sense of “feeling better” in most.  In other words, it reduces anxiety and puts you in the right mental state to be at your best on exam day.

3) Take a Vacation

This may seem obvious, but is often overlooked by die-hard students looking to study every minute they can.  Taking a vacation from studying and allowing the material you have been studying to soak in will help you retain a lot more information and give your brain some well-needed rest, not to mention the obvious benefit of relieving stress and anxiety.


What other advice do you have?

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