One of the elements of formal standardized testing that is a large contributor to test anxiety is the fact that these tests are usually timed. With only a certain amount of time available to complete what might be a thick, intimidating test booklet, many students will freeze up, certain they will never be able to complete the entire exam. Just knowing the clock is ticking can trigger a crippling bout of test anxiety for many test-takers.
If the stress of a timed test triggers test anxiety, planning ahead of time how to manage your anxiety can help make your test taking experience less stressful.
Form an Action Plan
One of the best ways to reduce test anxiety during a timed test is to formulate a plan for how you will approach the test. This plan can be general or specific, depending on the amount of information you have about the test ahead of time.
By taking sample tests, you should be able to get a good idea of how the final test will be formatted and plan accordingly. Divide the testing period into sections that match the types of questions and how long you think they will take to answer. For example, a section of multiple-choice questions will probably take less time than a series of essay questions, so allow yourself more time for the essays. This will help you decide when it is time to move on even if you have not finished a certain section of the test. Sample tests can usually be found online or in books dedicated to the specific test you will be taking, so use them to familiarize yourself with the test format, as well as to determine your action plan.
Do Not Focus on the Clock
Your action plan will necessarily involve keeping track of how much time you spend on each section of the test. However, if you focus on the clock too much, paying attention to the time will be more detrimental than helpful. To be sure watching the clock does not cause even more distraction and anxiety, check the time only at the end of test sections. If you are stuck on a section, wait a few minutes and then check the clock to see where you stand.
Focusing on your action plan and moderating your dependence on the clock will help you master the timed test and greatly decrease your test anxiety while you are taking the exam.