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Get Your Consultation: 734-992-7700
Fax: 734-585-5634

Effective Techniques to Help Deal With Test Anxiety


Facing the challenge of exams with confidence and calmness isn’t always easy. In fact, test anxiety is a significant hurdle that countless people grapple with. The escalating pressure to succeed, coupled with the daunting prospect of being evaluated, can often spiral into overwhelming stress levels. This strain doesn’t just take a toll on your well-being—it can also thwart your academic performance, transforming what should be a measure of your understanding into an intimidating ordeal. However, there’s no need to let this anxiety rule your  life. Here are some practical, effective strategies you can implement to help with test anxiety.

Respiratory Relaxation Techniques

Yes, deep breathing works.

Taking deep, measured breaths changes our body’s response including immediate sensations of stress or panic. When anxiety sets your thoughts into overdrive, centering yourself by concentrating on your breath can help soothe your nervous system and anchor you back to the present. To attempt this technique: breathe in deeply while counting to four, hold your breath as you count to seven, and then gently exhale to a count of eight. Repeat this pattern multiple times even if 2-3 breaths.  You may find other pacing more practical for you and that’s fine too.  Generally we encourage you to inhale through your nose, exhale through your nose or mouth, making your breaths just a little bit slower and deeper than usual.  See if you can make your exhale longer by 2 counts when compared to inhale. You would be surprised how much of a difference a quick exercise can do.  Is it a miracle, no. However, it can slow down the panic response and allow you to also drop into your senses i.e. feeling the floor underneath your feet, feeling the air on your skin, loosening your shoulders, allowing yourself to have a moment to just be and connect to a greater perspective. 

If focusing on breathing is difficult, focus on a mantra such as “may I be well, may I be healthy” or whatever mantra works for you. Place your hand on your heart if you can and provide contact with yourself this way.  Closing your eyes can further underscore this brief moment of care and support.  This all allows you to check in and anchor yourself.   

There is power in moments like these, reconnecting with ourselves and expanding our perspective as well. When we ruminate or our mind is spinning, it’s a signal we are not feeling something. 

Time Management Strategies

woman-at-computer-with-schedules-and-notes-to-help-with-time-management One of the main triggers of exam stress is inefficient time management. The sensation of being hurried or underprepared can intensify anxiety levels. If you haven’t already – to counteract this, initiate by dividing your study resources into manageable chunks.  

Establish a study timeline that designates dedicated timeframes for each subject matter. Make sure to incorporate consistent intervals for relaxation and revitalization. Capitalize on knowing your rhythm as well.  To help, 

1. Rank your tasks based on their significance and complexity.

2. Address the most demanding subjects when you’re at your peak energy levels. 

If you are overwhelmed, start anywhere. The easiest task just might get you going.  Remember, motivation comes from doing.  

Positive Self-Talk

young-man-preparing-for-test-in-library-to-reduce-anxiety Our mental chatter significantly influences our emotional state. If you’re perpetually convincing yourself that you’re set for failure, it’s likely to escalate your anxiety levels. You can acknowledge thoughts as they show up but you don’t have to be dragged by them. In fact even the simple act of acknowledging i.e. “I am noticing the thought that…” can curb its power.  Now, don’t get into the habit of acknowledging to “make it go away” because that backfires. Instead, look at it as a mindfulness practice, acknowledging whatever shows up.  You don’t need to fight it. That doesn’t work anyways.  You can, however, “check the facts”..  That’s a useful strategy. 

  • Remember that anxiety is always in the future.  And no, you can’t check the facts in the future. 
  • You can, however, check the facts on how many times you passed out giving a presentation or how many classes you failed.  If we are going to run with it, let’s run with facts not assumptions.
  • You can also reiterate your strengths, past achievements and use affirmations such as “I am equipped,” “I have invested ample time in studying,” or “I am capable” or even “I am here to learn”.   

Establishing Study/Work Habits

Creating a regular schedule and work habits can also aid in reducing performance and test stress. Remember, if we don’t schedule it – it doesn’t happen. Be it that lunch or study hour.  This might involve studying at a fixed time daily (and yes this includes regular fueling), setting up a decent work/ study space conducive to productivity and focus, and employing efficient study strategies like paraphrasing the information or explaining the content to another person.  Regularity can foster a sense of familiarity, and this familiarity can help diminish anxiety.

Support Services for College Students

For students needing further aid in applying these techniques or those who continue to experience test anxiety despite their use, there are resources available.  At Lotus Consulting, we believe that no student should have to face test anxiety alone. Our therapy and counseling services are here to support you, providing personalized strategies to manage stress and improve academic performance. Remember, seeking help is not a sign of weakness, but rather a proactive step towards better mental health and academic success.


If you are dealing with test anxiety, it is important to recognize that you aren’t alone as many students face similar issues. With the right strategies in place, it’s possible to manage this stress effectively. Whether it’s through breathing exercises, time management strategies, positive self-talk, formulating study routines or seeking professional help, remember that overcoming test anxiety is a journey, not a destination. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Lotus Consulting if you need support along the way.

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