Tests are a stressful experience for everyone. Throughout my life there have been many times where I have psyched myself out for an exam, usually either leading to me spending less time studying or leading to me being so frazzled the morning of the exam that my confidence levels are super low while I’m writing the test. Over the years, I have come up with some tips on how to make sure that when the exam began, I was in the best possible mindset so I could focus on showing what I had mastered throughout the course.

1. A Little Adrenaline Never Hurt Anyone

Yes, this post is about tips on how to relax before an exam, but remember that it’s completely natural to be nervous. Everyone is, and you’re not alone. Adrenaline can be an asset to you as it can focus you and allow you to work quickly through the exam.

2. Be Prepared

Yes, you should be prepared for the exam by studying for it in advance. Other ways to be prepared in order to minimize unnecessary nervousness include but are not limited to: having the right supplies, knowing when and where your exam is, eating before the exam, having a good night's rest the night before, and budgeting your travel time the morning of. Only you can know what you need to be successful for an exam, so whatever you need, make sure it’s done (for me, it’s about 50 pens and pencils, a bottle of water and gum, as well as being at the location 20 minutes before). Bottom line, make sure that you have nothing to worry about beyond the exam itself.

3. Don’t Over-Cram

Sometimes studying at the last minute isn’t the best idea. For example, let’s imagine you have adhered to your study plan, and you feel prepared for the exam. If this is the case, and you already feel prepared, there is no need to spend the morning of the exam looking over your notes, trying to absorb everything, and stressing when you can’t remember the smallest little detail. If you over-study, you risk reaching a point where you psych yourself out and lose confidence in your abilities.

4. Count to Ten and Breathe

Cliché, perhaps, but counting to ten and taking deep breaths can really ground and focus you. Usually while panicking over an exam, my mind is in a tornado of worry - and this is before the exam has even been passed out. Counting to ten and breathing deeply allows me to regain some control over my worry. Though I can’t control what questions will be on the exam, I can control how I feel going into the exam.

5. Positive Affirmations

You are a competent and capable human being with the full potential to do well on this exam. Believing in your abilities about what you studied and practiced is important. Having confidence during an exam can work to your advantage, especially if you have really prepared for the exam. Usually at the last moment when the exam is being handed out, I tell myself, “You can do this,” because I can, and you can too.

Good Luck!

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