What if I promised you that if you work hard enough you will be accepted to an amazing college? And what if I said that if you do your very best you will end up having an excellent college education? So then, why do hardworking and committed students become so nervous about standardized test-taking?
There’s not a simple answer, as students come from different backgrounds and profiles. Nevertheless, nervous test-takers do share some common traits, so here are some tips to manage those nerves:
1. Don't place excessive importance on standardized testing
Yes, your ACT/SAT scores count and colleges do place a lot of importance on them.
That said, they do not solely define who you are or how competitive your application
is. After all, colleges take a holistic approach towards admissions, considering both
quantitative (GPA, ACT/SAT scores) and qualitative (essays, extracurricular activities,
letters of recommendation) measures.
2. Be more concerned about the output, not the outcome
First things first. What comes before knowing the correct answer to a difficult question? It’s always learning. Students must first learn and then perform; never the other way around.
3. Moving quickly does not mean rushing
We all know that the SAT and the ACT are fast-paced tests, and nervous test-takers tend
to rush through questions making careless mistakes instead of moving quickly and attentively through the test. The good news is that there are ways to help nervous test-takers control anxiety and focus on test day.
4. Practice, practice, practice
Practice testing is the best way to manage stress and anxiety with real test-taking. Practicing not only allows students to control their fear and anxiety but also solidifies one’s self-image as a good test-taker.
5. Don’t forget to breathe properly
Breathing slowly and deeply allows students to calm down both physically and mentally. Control your breathing, and control your focus.
6. Visualize the positive outcome
On test day, past strengths are more important than past mistakes. Don't forget everything you are good at and how hard you had to work to get there. Also, positive thinking helps to overcome negative self-talk. Visualize that high score, and you'll have nothing to worry about.
As Bob Marley said, “Don’t worry, about a thing. 'Cause every little thing is gonna be alright.”