Whether you’re taking a short quiz or the NCLEX exam, you’re sure to encounter test anxiety. It is that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach that makes you feel that you will inevitably fail, no matter what. It is the physical tension and the headache that creeps up on you as the big test draws near. It is that overwhelming “knowledge” that failing this single test will negatively impact the rest of your life.
So what can you do to conquer this fear? Here are 10 tips:
- Be prepared. Nothing conquers anxiety more than confidence. Nothing builds confidence better than preparation. But how can you prepare?
- Study effectively. When preparing for a test, especially in nursing, a student often feels overwhelmed. There is just too much information and so little time. So start studying the day you get the test date. Begin by investing some time organizing. Break the information into several subcategories and study only one block of information at each study session. Schedule manageable study sessions into each day, say after your nursing classes, and don’t let anything deter you from your schedule. And no, organizing your sock drawer or going out with friends for a quick dinner are not valid reasons to break your study schedule!
- Eat and sleep well. Make sure to get a good night’s sleep and have a well-balanced, light meal before you take the test. Junk food or energy drinks are not replacements here! Don’t overeat or under sleep.
- Leave the notes at home and have no time for chit-chat. You are ready. Don’t create stress by attempting last-minute studying, especially for the NCLEX exam. This will increase anxiety and leave you second-guessing what you know. Don’t study with your peers immediately prior to the test either. They may not be as prepared as you and their anxiety can rub off on you. You don’t want that since you are ready and focused.
- Take a breather. Right before beginning the test, take three deep breaths, then go for it! As you do, think positively. Positive thoughts lead to positive results.
- Answer the ones you know first. Okay, you have confidently mastered all of the information but now look at the first questions and draw a blank. Don’t worry, quickly move past any questions you are unsure of without giving them any thought. Finish the questions you know and go back to the ones you skipped last.
- It is not a race. Don’t get uneasy because you are not the first or may even be the last to finish. Slow and steady wins the race. Focus on your test, not on what your peers are doing. There is usually no trophy for being the first one done.
- I can do this. As you breeze through the test, continually focus on the confidence of your answers and how well you are doing. Drown out the negative with the positive.
- No check please. When you have finished the questions you know, go back and complete the ones you skipped at first glance. Now, get up and turn in the test. Don’t go back over every answer and start second guessing yourself.
- Celebrate. You prepared your best and scored your best so don’t obsess over your performance. Enjoy the rest of your day and think about the fact that you are one step closer from being a nursing student to a successful nurse. Most importantly, celebrate the “A” when you get the NCLEX exam or the test results back.