How to Beat Test Anxiety and Take on Exams Without Stress

this video is brought to you by Snorlax Krunk and that one chicken from the movie Surf's Up three dudes who never let the stress of adversity get to them too much actually Snorlax just kind of sleeps through adversity anyway test anxiety let's talk about it and then let's do our best to destroy it the time leading up to a test is so laden with stress and anxiety because tests are high-pressure situations and high-pressure situations can actually deplete your working memory and reduce your performance this is commonly called choking and it's common to all types of high pressure situations not just academic ones now it's important to note that a little bit of stress and a little bit of fear it can actually be a good thing stress heightens our senses and brings out our best like the famous radio broadcaster Edward R Murrow once said the best speakers know enough to be scared the only difference between the pros and the novices is that the pros have trained the butterflies to fly in formation without any stress at all we'd just be a pathetic stress means you care too much though and your health and your performance start to suffer so today I want to help you mitigate some of the stress and fear that's caused by your exams and specifically I want to focus in on three main fears that I think all students have when exams are around the corner number one the fear of the unknown number two the fear of inadequacy the feeling that you're unprepared and not ready for the challenge ahead and number three the fear of the stakes the feeling that everything is riding on this test and that your life will basically be over if you fail and actually now that I think about it there are a couple of other worries that I think most students probably face but I want to wait until the end of the video to briefly touch on those first let's talk about these three big ones and then go over some specific things you can do to reduce the stress caused by each of them so let's talk about our first fear skeletons or I mean the fear of the unknown so really the best way to conquer the fear of the unknown is to make the test as much of a known quantity as possible do your best to make that test feel like a familiar old friend when you walk into the class and face it down on test day now there are three main ways to do this that I want to go over in this video and the first one is to simply recreate the test conditions as best you can when you're studying this means actually going to the location in which you'll be tested and if it's your classroom I don't really think sitting in class every day really counts because it doesn't really recreate the high pressure situation of the test so go there during the off hours even if the rooms empty take a desk sit down and try to do some active studying while you're in the actual room you'll be tested in do stop at location either try to recreate the time constraints and maybe even the type of questions you'll be quizzed over and basically make it a dry run that doesn't really have the high stakes of the actual test so that when you actually do take that test it's as if you've already done it but you might be asking me how do I actually recreate these test conditions if I don't know what's going to be on the test and that leads into my second tip ask your professor a lot of students make the mistake of assuming that if the professor didn't readily give out information in class about the test that they're unwilling to give it out if asked this isn't always the case so if there are aspects of your exam that you're unclear on ask a professor you can ask them about the format what types of questions you'll be asked true/false multiple choice essay style how long you'll actually have to complete the test and what sort of materials are allowed in the testing room and my final tip for getting to know the tests ahead of time is to look for old tests a lot of fraternities sororities and other student organizations maintain test banks that you might be able to look through and if you don't have access to anything like that there's sites like Cooper's comm which maintain their own databases our second big fear to conquer is the feeling of inadequacy the feeling that you're unprepared for the challenge that the test presents and honestly the best thing you can do here is simply to prepare like the famous marathon or juma a conga once said that the will to win is nothing without the will to prepare so use the other tactics in your arsenal the discipline hacks the planning techniques and make sure that throughout the semester you're working diligently so that way when you get to the weeks leading up to the test you don't have a whole lot of catching up to do you've been preparing the whole time like if you've ever seen a Rocky movie my favorite part is actually a training montage because that's the stuff he has to do in order to win the fight your entire semester is your training montage and if you don't use it correctly then the test is not going to go well for you it's just that simple but let's talk about those couple of weeks going up to the test whatever you did during the semester revision is really important and there's a couple of things you can do to make it go more smoothly number one is to go through your notes and the other materials you got throughout the semester and see what areas of the material that you're not really clear on know your gaps that will allow you to focus most efficiently on the facts and concepts you really need to solidify in your mind and not waste too much time going over stuff you're already pretty clear on additionally you can create something that the author Walter Pape calls a home stretch schedule this is a more detailed schedule that you probably don't need to break out during the earlier days in the semester but in a couple of weeks leading up to a test it can be really useful so on this schedule you want to make sure you block out time for your set obligations like class and work and also for the more mundane things you take for granted like eating and sleeping because these are very important when you're studying for finals but then you actually want to block out time for studying that way when you create that list of gaps and maybe a material you need to go through you know when you're going to actually study it also when you're revising for tests it's doubly important that you study actively like if you're just passively going through your notes and textbooks you're wasting a lot of precious time so make quizzes for yourself and make sure you're having to actively recall information and pull it out of your brain now what if you tried your hardest to prepare throughout the semester and revise efficiently and you still just don't feel confident about your ability to do the test well well I've got a couple of suggestions to ease that fear and the first one is to simply act confident tell yourself that you're going to do well in the test whenever I go into a new situation where I feel a little bit unprepared I just tell myself that I'm gonna do well I might not but there's no reason to worry about it so I just give myself the confidence you can do this too and there's also one other thing you can do to easier worries before a test and this is actually backed up by science so a study done by the University of Chicago actually showed that students with test anxiety were able to raise their test grades by simply taking ten minutes before the exam to write out their worries to err amount so if you're feeling anxious about a test try this show up a little bit early for the test pull on a piece of scrap paper and write out why exactly you're worried this pulls it out of your brain puts it on paper puts it aside and lets your brain focus on the actual test science and the final worry we're going to go over in this video is the fear of the stakes the fear that this test is the be-all end-all the determining factor and who you're going to be and where you're going to get in life and I just want to tell you it's not one test does not define you and in fact your grades don't define you if you've ever read my blog post on the student success triangle you'll know that academic performance is really just one point of the triangle the other ones are value creation and relationship building and if you're putting in effort in these areas as well as your academic performance one test is not going to ruin you you can think of your test in the same way that I think of job interviews well I've got an interviews in the past I don't think of it as an audience with this all-powerful arbiter who decides whether or not I get to stay in my mom's basement for the rest of my life no it's just a conversation between two individuals who want to figure out if they can provide value for each other think of your test the same way it's just one examination of a small body of knowledge you learn over a set period of time that's it but also feed off of some of that pressure find your Center generate some confidence and let that pressure hone your senses let it make you stronger rather than weaker now let's briefly touch on those two final worries that I alluded to earlier the first one is perfectionism a lot of students feel like they have to do absolutely perfect on an exam and I just want to tell you you don't the writer and speaker Scott Berkun once said I don't want to be perfect I want to be useful I want to be good and I want to sound like myself this should be your mindset going into a test know your goals work as hard as you can but don't expect absolute perfection from yourself it's unhealthy and the last worry is past failures if we fail one time we tend to see a trend forming and we think we're gonna fail again this is due to something called the negativity bias which I'll talk about more in depth in a future video but basically we tend to put more weight on negative experiences the thing to realize here though is that the outcome of any particular situation is determined by the factors that went into it so if you change the factors you can change the result change the way you study and prepare it'll change the grade you get in a test so that's it for this video and once again I have to leave you with a quote from the Roman poet Horace who said an adversity remember to keep an even mind hopefully the tips here have helped to quell some of the anxiety you're feeling about your tests and if you're looking for more tips on how to do better in your exams well I have a couple of suggestions number one I made a video at the end of last semester on how to ace your exams and you can click right there to watch it and also if you're looking for some specific techniques to use during the actual test my friend Simon Clark who's a youtuber from the UK made his own video and should check it out right there also you should probably just subscribe to him he makes good stuff that's all I've got and if you have additional tips that I didn't cover here feel free to leave them down in the comments for other students to see and thanks so much for watching this video hey guys thanks for checking out my video on test anxiety if you enjoyed it you can leave a like so other students can find it more easily and also you can get new videos on me more efficient student every single week by hitting the big red subscribe button right there if you want to improve your grades I wrote an entire book on the subject and it's actually free so if you want to get your copy just click the picture the book you can find a summary and links to anything I mentioned in the companion blog post for this video which you'll find by going to the orange logo right there if you missed last week's video there's a clip of it playing so definitely check it out and also if you want to connect or have questions or ideas for new videos you can leave a comment below or connect with me on Twitter and speaking of Twitter here is one final bonus tip for test anxiety that I posted on my Twitter page yesterday thanks for watching


  1. I must say it really helped me to get rid of my stress, there is a test tomorrow for me and before this video i was Horrified that I'll fail but this video really helped me and i feel more prepared, I don't expect perfection although it would be nice to see an A+ on that paper but now i feel less scared so i don't care, basically I can't thank you enough for that video.

  2. I have 40 days to prepare for an entrance exam for medical school and I'm too paralyzed with fear and regret.

  3. My problem is timed tests, especially tests that require problem solving. I can study extensively, but I absolutely choke on my math and programming tests because I don't have enough time to think about and understand the problems. The limited time forces me to rush, and I make alot of careless mistakes and end up having to spend even more time correcting my mistakes. This especially doesn't help when the professors throw you curve ball questions on the exam that literally require you to take your time and think. Why is it not enough for me to demonstrate that I understand the subject? Why does speed have to be a factor when I'm being tested? Speed comes with extensive experience and mastery, which if I had that I wouldn't be in school. I do well on my assignments but when it comes to testing, I feel absolutely helpless.

  4. When I enter the examination, about midway through the exam (talking about finals and half yearly etc.) I feel the urge to go to the urinal even if I don’t drink water before the exam. I really takes away my concentration and wastes my time.
    Once I couldn’t write about 10 marks worth of questions in a maths exam because of the same problem;the examiners didn’t allow me to go at first and by the time they allowed, I fell short of time to complete the exam even though I knew the correct solutions.
    Any solution/suggestions?

  5. Whenever I am scared of an exam I just hope that depression kicks in so I become an empty emotionless cask

  6. I am so scared I’ll fail me eog and I have good grades but I’m still scared hellppp me!!! 😤😫😭😭

  7. “The best speakers know enough to be scared, the only difference between the pros and the novices, is the pros have trained the butterflies to fly in formation.” 🌟🌟🌟

  8. Tomorrow I have a French test and I’m so lucky that the school hour before the test the teacher is in my class. That hour I am allowed to do homework, learn and just focus on any school subject (falling into the category of languages and mathematics). Which mean I can take that hour to recall anything and write down my worries.

  9. Nice video, we are using it in a freshman seminar. One suggestion. At around the 2:50 mark, you say: "“and my final tip for getting to know the test ahead of time is to look for old tests. A lot of fraternities, sororities and other student organizations maintain test banks that you might be able to look through. And if you don’t have access to anything like that, there’s sites like which maintain their own databases". On my campus, and many others, giving or receiving copies of an exam without the permission of the instructor is defined as "cheating", and is a violation of student codes of conduct. It is okay to ask the instructor for example questions or practice tests, and they may provide past exams. However, the resources you are suggesting are likely not authorized by the instructor, and using them could have significant consequences.

  10. Steaks!!!! 😂😂 Love your sense of humour! Great video btw, really helpful now that my finals are approaching! This is my favorite channel on youtube!

  11. Today i had my maths test, i felt i was totally prepared for it and was looking forward to it because i have had maths anxiety my whole school life but this year i did try to give it my best shot but the moment i started writing my test today i felt like i was going to collapse it was all black infront of my eyes and i couldnt solve a single question properly. I messed up all the solutions and had a nervous break down after the test was finished. We had 45 min to solve 8 questions and then when i came back home and sat calm and quiet and then set the timer for 45 min yo solve the question paper i solved all questions in like 25 min i was surprised and they were all correct too and then i was like i really need to calm my self or i'll keep messing up my test the same way i did today and this video has given me some tips to do so.

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