Exam Season is HERE: Test Taking Coping Skills


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There isn’t just “one way” to cope with test stress and anxiety. Make a cope ahead plan to be ready before the day of the test.

Josie Baker '20, Staff Writer

As testing season quickly descends upon us, those of us with test anxiety, or anxiety in general, are beginning to feel the strain. It’s important to keep a large repertoire of coping skills on hand. Here are some quick and easy tricks to make it through testing season with less stress!

The days and night before your test – Studying is important, but don’t overload yourself; sleep is always more important. If I know that I’m going to be in a stressful situation soon, I create a cope-ahead plan. Cope-ahead plans are really effective for me, as I let my emotions take over really quickly. Coping ahead includes imagining different scenarios and planning out reactions to them.

For example, I’ve always struggled with math. When I go into tests, no matter how prepared I am, my mind just goes blank. I forget all of the formulas and methods, it’s practically like I never learned them. To avoid this, I plan ahead and think about everything I can do to minimize this problem. This is the most important part of coping. Coping ahead for tests can be as basic as a strategy on how to divide your time or practicing mental exercises that you can do during testing to clear your head and refocus.

The day of the test Everyone says that you should arrive early, but seriously, show up early. Your brain needs time to refocus and if you familiarize yourself with the space, you’re less likely to become distracted by something you notice during the test.

Also, eat breakfast. I struggle with that one because I’m usually not hungry in the mornings, but even if you think you can get by without it, you probably won’t. Even eating a piece of toast with some butter automatically gives you an advantage. Water is always a good idea, as are snacks. 

During the test For everyone who’s going to be testing with no accommodations, there are still plenty of coping skills available. If you notice your mind wandering or your stress is beginning to affect your focus, try some deep breathing; in through the nose and out through the mouth, inhaling, exhaling, and holding for at least four counts each. Since AP tests are time sensitive, it’s important to stay focused and aware of your time. To refocus, it’s important to use the 5-4-3-2-1 skill since it doesn’t take much time. 

Finally, always remember that you’re doing the best you can, and one test will not make or break your future. Anxiety and tests do not have to go hand in hand, and the more prepared you are, the less stressful it will be. Good luck Warriors!