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3 Ways to Conquer Your Exam Anxiety

Finals season is nigh, and the prospect of taking your exams is probably making you wish you could go back to 4th grade, when your most difficult assignments were learning to spell the word “turtle” and trying not to eat too much glue (you failed spectacularly at both).

But you can’t go back, and you should be grateful, because puberty’s done a lot for you (it’s also done a lot for Neville Longbottom, but that is neither here nor there). You’re stuck in the present, and there’s no escaping your exams—but fortunately for you, we’ve got some tips that will take the edge off your anxiety. Read on to find out how to conquer your test-taking fears, and please stop eating that glue. It’s bad for you.

Study in a Test-Taking Environment

When you’re reviewing your notes, try to replicate the environment you’ll be taking the test in: a quiet room with minimal distractions and noises (aside from the sound of your own panicked mouth-breathing). If you train yourself to understand the material and answer practice questions in a classroom-like atmosphere, you’ll be more comfortable and less nervous when it comes time to sit down in an actual classroom on the day of the test. But if you “study” while listening to the soundtrack of Hamilton, staring at flashcards for ten minutes and then looking at Saltbae memes for five, you’re probably not going to ace that AP Lang exam —because as sexy as that salt-shaking was, homeboy really doesn’t have anything to do with Pride and Prejudice.

Talk to Your Teacher

It might be hard to remember it when they’re handing out 70-page review packets and robbing you of your will to live, but your teachers became teachers because they want to help you learn. You are literally their calling—so don’t be afraid to reach out to them and ask if they might be able to give you any pointers about your upcoming exam. In most cases, they’ll be happy that you care enough about your education to talk to them, and they’ll be able to help you figure out what areas of the course you should put the most time and energy into studying (for example, maybe you can skim Chapter 7 in your Calc textbook, but you’d better memorize Chapter 8 or die trying). Your teachers are the ones writing—and grading—your exams; if they go into the test thinking that you’ll do well, you probably will.

Don’t Let One Question Set the Tone for the Rest of Your Exam

No matter how prepared you are for a test, there’s always a chance that you’ll come across a question so difficult that your entire body shuts down in fear—the experience is so universal that there are memes about it. But before you have a panic blackout, flip your desk over, and fall to the floor weeping, take a deep breath and remember that one question won’t make or break your test grade, so don’t let yourself get so worked up over it that can’t focus on the rest of the test. Pace yourself, and have some perspective: if you followed tips 1 and 2 above, the questions you’re able to answer will outnumber those you aren’t.