Lesson 6.2: Handling Test Anxiety

Anxious boy surrounded by numbers
“Overcoming Math Anxiety” by wecometolearn is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Most people experience some form of anxiety when it comes to taking tests. Sweaty palms, heart palpitations, mental block, and other forms of normal test anxiety may surface before, during, even after taking tests (see the end of this lesson for a more complete list).

This entire class is, of course, designed to help alleviate test stress by offering numerous strategies and perspectives when it comes to general preparation for and participation in academia. However, there are some specific helps to subdue the stress as well. NOTE: the type of test anxiety or stress referenced here is not of a clinical nature requiring medical and/or counseling treatment.

To help you come up with your own, customized plan of test stress reduction, complete the following exercise. The articles cited cover such essentials as what might be influencing your worry about test taking, methods to help you feel safe during a test, and what to do in a major anxiety attack.


  1. Read Study Tip #18, page 46 – HANDLING TEST ANXIETY (Part 1) and Study Tip #19, page 48 – HANDLING TEST ANXIETY (Part 2), by Dan Hodges. Scroll down to these two tips on the, click here: PDF file.
  2. From Hodges’ list of suggestions and perspectives, write about
    • what influences you with regard to test anxiety,
    • some methods Hodges’ presents that you believe would benefit you,
    • how you might alleviate a lack of safety around test taking that you might experience, and
    • some ideas you would like to keep in mind should you ever experience more challenging anxiety attacks during tests, especially finals and/or State Board exams.
  3. Write about 250-300 words or one page.

“How to Deal With Exam Anxiety”  offers a more complete list of normal test taking anxiety symptoms:

Anxiety is not only an emotional state; it produces physical symptoms that you can identify if you know what to look for. If you experience any of the following symptoms when studying or thinking about a test, this would be a tell tale sign that you’re feeling anxiety.

  • Headaches.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Rapid heartbeat. Usually a heart rate above 100 beats per minute characterizes a rapid heartbeat.
  • Sweating.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Light-headedness.
  • Extreme body temperature, either excessively hot or cold.
  • Gastrointestinal discomfort. This can be characterized by nausea, diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal pain.


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How to Learn Like a Pro! Copyright © 2016 by Phyllis Nissila is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.