Mount St. Joseph University

Overcoming Test Anxiety

Academics, Press Releases


File Under: finals, learning center, wellness center

Dana Freer head shot.

The end of the semester will soon be here, and that means time for finals week. Dana Freer, director of the Mount's Learning Center, and Patsy Schwaiger, director of the Wellness Center, have these helpful tips for students to be successful for their exams.

Before the test:

Prepare well in advance

  • Keep up with your work.
  • Avoid last minute cramming.
  • Don’t go without sleep the night before.
  • Eat breakfast the day of the exam.
  • Stop studying an hour or so before the test and relax.
  • Prepare some positive statements about the test and write them down on index cards. “I can succeed at this test.”

Before you begin the test

  • Don’t talk about the test beforehand with other students.
  • Read over the test and plan your approach. Give yourself time limits to complete each section; answer easier questions first.

During the test:

  • Don’t hesitate to ask for clarification from the professor.
  • If you go blank, go on to another question.
  • On an essay test jot down anything you can recall on scratch paper to stimulate your memory.
  • Relax yourself physically during the test if you notice that you are not thinking well or going blank. Pause, lay your test aside, and take several slow, deep breaths. Say the word “relax” to yourself. No one will pay attention to you doing this because they will be focused on their own test.
  • Don’t worry if others are going faster than you. Maybe they will miss questions because they are rushing.  Just focus on your own work.

After the test:

  • Think about your anxious thoughts. How can you modify them for the next test? For example, “I’ll never get this question right. I’ll get a low grade.” This can be turned into “I’ll go on to another question. That will build my confidence. I’ll worry about the grade later.”
  • Reward yourself for a job well done!

For students who are struggling, the Writing Center and Math Center are in the Learning Center and available. Students who need some extra help next semester can request a peer tutor by completing the "Request a Peer Tutor" form on MyMount. Type "peer tutor" into the search bar to find the page.