One of the several causes of test anxiety is allowing yourself to get caught up in a loop of negative thinking. If you have had bad experiences with tests in the past, you might find yourself revisiting those bad experiences. If the test is one that can determine whether or not you will be able to advance in your career, you might focus on worst-case scenarios, envisioning your future crumbling before you have even attempted the test.
How, then, can you escape from this cycle of negativity and avoid test anxiety? One way to combat the negative thinking of test anxiety is to counteract it with positive thinking.
What Positive Thinking Can Do
Positive thinking might seem too simple or abstract a concept to make a difference with your test anxiety, but it is actually a powerful tool. Positive thinking can counteract test anxiety by:
- Replacing worst-case scenarios with more realistic possible outcomes.
- Disconnecting your present experience from irrelevant past experiences.
- Quieting racing thoughts that make it difficult to concentrate.
Any one of these effects can help reduce your test anxiety, and all of them together might make test anxiety a thing of the past for you.
How to Implement Positive Thinking
The quickest and easiest way to train your mind to switch from negative to positive thoughts is to stay aware of what is drifting through your thoughts at all times. Too often, negative thoughts sneak up on us when we are not paying attention, hindering our ability to focus on what is truly important.
When you experience a negative thought, quickly replace it with a positive one. For example, replace, “I failed the last test because I panicked – I’ll do the same thing this time,” with, “I have control over my emotions and will focus on the knowledge I have gained from studying.” Focus on what you have done to ensure a positive result from this test, and have confidence in your ability to demonstrate the knowledge you have gained through your preparation for the test.
Do not wait until test day or until test anxiety actually strikes to start your positive thinking regimen. Begin right away, using positive thinking to redirect your thoughts during study sessions and during class. By the time test day rolls around, you will be familiar with the process of positive thinking, which can help banish test anxiety from your exam day experience.