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Don’t Stress: Relieving Test Anxiety

By Noell Saunders

Test anxiety is very common. In fact, a majority of college students may not be able to recognize when they have it and some don't know how to manage it.

Nancy Badger, executive director of Old Dominion University's Office of Counseling Services, said a little anxiety is OK but when it starts to impair daily activities, that's a problem. Badger recommends practicing good stress management techniques.

"If you practice good stress management on a daily basis, it's going to make you less anxious," she said. "It's something you have to practice daily, just like exercise. Then, when you sit down to take a test, you'll be able to stay engaged."

Some stress management techniques include:

Find a hobby: i.e. fishing, painting or take a sewing class;

Exercise: i.e. walking, stretching, house cleaning, yard work or yoga;

Guided imagery: visualize a favorite place, such as a garden, waterfall or beach, close your eyes and imagine being there using your five senses: and

Meditation: Sit or lie in a comfortable position, close your eyes and focus your attention on breathing by inhaling and exhaling.

In addition to making sure you have an ample amount of time to prepare for the test, maintaining a good diet, getting the right amount of sleep the night before and having a positive attitude is also important. While studying for a test, it's also a good idea to take small breaks in between in order to replenish your energy.

Old Dominion's Student Success Center offers tips on how to prepare before and during a test as well as what to do after, including:

Before the Test: Pay attention during class; take and study notes effectively; complete homework assignments and; review study material regularly and attend review sessions;

During the test: Bring a watch to pace yourself; do a quick survey of the entire test, so you know how to efficiently budget your time; complete the easiest problems first; and

After a Test: When you get your test back, ensure there are no grading mistakes. Make sure you understand the mistakes you made and, if the teacher reviews the test in class, be sure to take notes on what the teacher wanted.

For a full list of test preparation tips visit the Student Success Center's website.

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