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  • Writer's pictureSarah Santiago

Overcoming Exam Jitters: Test Taking Anxiety Tips for College Students



It's completely normal to feel a wave of nervousness before a test or exam. The pressure to perform can be overwhelming, but remember, you have the resilience and knowledge to conquer it because you've made it through every test and exam you've ever had. In this blog post we will explore tips to help you manage pre-test anxiety. From exercises to do while walking to the classroom, to strategies for a good night's sleep, I've got you covered. Take a deep breath, and let's dive in!


1. Mindful Walking Exercises:


As you make your way to the exam room, harness the power of mindful walking exercises to calm your mind and alleviate anxiety. Pay attention to the sensations of your feet touching the ground, your toes in your shoes, the rhythm of your steps, and the sounds around you. Engage your senses by noticing the environment—the sights, smells, and textures. Deepen your breathing, inhaling slowly through your nose filling your belly, and exhaling through your mouth. This mindful walking practice can ground you in the present moment, reducing stress and promoting focus.

2. Positive Affirmations:


Empower yourself with positive self-talk to counteract self-doubt and build confidence. Repeat affirmations silently or aloud as you walk to your exam. Remind yourself of your abilities, knowledge, and preparation. Speak words of encouragement, such as "I am well-prepared," "I am capable of handling this exam," "I will get through this", and "I trust in my abilities." These affirmations can shift your mindset from fear to a positive and empowered state, helping you face the exam with greater self-assurance.

3. Breathing Exercises for Relaxation:


Deep breathing exercises are a powerful tool for calming anxiety and inducing relaxation. Try the 4-7-8 technique: inhale slowly through your nose for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of seven, and exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of eight. Repeat this cycle several times, allowing the deep breaths to release tension and promote a sense of calm. This technique can be especially useful the night before exam while falling asleep, when you're waiting outside the exam room, or sitting at your desk before the test begins.

4. Strategies for Restful Sleep:

A good night's sleep before an exam is crucial for optimal performance. However, anxiety can sometimes disrupt our ability to sleep. To improve your chances of a restful slumber, create a calming pre-sleep routine. Disconnect from screens at least an hour before bedtime, engage in relaxation exercises such as gentle stretching or reading a book, and create a peaceful sleep environment by ensuring the room is cool, dark, and quiet. Practice deep breathing or meditation techniques to quiet a busy mind.

5. Self-Compassion and Perspective:


Remember to be kind to yourself throughout the test/exam process. Recognize that it's normal to feel nervous, and treat yourself with self-compassion. Acknowledge that your worth extends far beyond one exam and that success is a journey with ups and downs. Keep things in perspective and remind yourself that grades do not define your intelligence or worth as a person. Focus on doing your best rather than striving for perfection.


College tests and exams can evoke anxiety, but with the right strategies, you can manage these nerves and perform at your best. By incorporating mindful walking exercises, utilizing positive affirmations, practicing deep breathing techniques, fostering restful sleep, and embracing self-compassion, you can navigate the pre-exam jitters with greater ease. Trust in your abilities, believe in your preparation, and remember that your mental well-being is just as important as academic success. You've got this! Good luck on your exams, and remember if anxiety gets in the way of being the student you know you can be, consider speaking with a mental health professional who can provide guidance and support.


Note: This blog post is not intended to replace professional advice. If you are experiencing severe anxiety or mental health issues, it is recommended to consult with a licensed mental health professional. If you are in a crisis, please seek help immediately. National Domestic Violence Hotline: Call: 800-799-7233 Text*: START to 88788 TTY: 800-787-3224 Chat: https://thehotline.org About the author: Sarah Santiago is a licensed professional counselor in Michigan. She provides therapy to Michigan college students and emerging adults (ages 18-29) virtually. Her specialties include helping clients work through anxiety, eating disorders, and improving self-confidence. Bloom Counseling & Wellness, LLC, est. in 2018Bloom Counseling & Wellness, LLC, est. in 2018Providing anxiety therapy and eating disorder therapy virtually to college students and young adults in Michigan. Licensed therapist serving all of Michigan, including: Marquette 49855, Houghton 49221, 49931, Gladstone 49837, Negaunee 49855, Ishpeming 49849, 49865, Hickory Corners & South Gull Lake 49060, Bloomfield Hills 48301, 48302, 48304, Oakland County & Birmingham 48009, 48363, Ada, Forest Hills, Grand Rapids, Whitneyville 49301, Novi 48374, Northville 48168, Franklin 48025, Ann Arbor 48104, East Lansing 48824, Mount Pleasant 48859, Kalamazoo 49007, Ypsilanti 48197, Traverse City 49684, 49686, Allendale 49401



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