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Understanding and Managing Test Anxiety


  • Fear of failure
  • Past difficulties with testing
  • Lack of preparation
  • Poor time management
  • Negative thinking

What it feels like:

  • Physical symptoms:
    • stomach aches/nausea
    • head aches
    • sweating
    • increase heart rate
    • dizzy/light-headed
    • tunnel vision
    • shallow breathing
  • Emotional symptoms:
    • helplessness
    • depression
    • anger
    • fear
    • Test anxiety can trigger a panic attack, which is a state of overwhelming and irrational fear.
  • Cognitive symptoms:
    • lack of concentration
    • negative self-talk


  • Practice relaxation techniques
    • 10 deep, calming breathes.
      • Breath in to yourdiaphragm for a slow count of 5 and out for a slow count of 5.
      • During the test use a calming breath if you experience anxiety or worry.
    • Progressive Muscle relaxation is a process of tensing muscle groups and then releasing the tension.
    • Practice yoga or tai chi regularly
  • Prepare
    • Manage your time in order to schedule the time needed to study prior to test.
    • Go to class regularly and spend time reading over notes after each class.
    • Get plenty of rest the night before a test or quiz and eat a healthy breakfast.
    • Use positive self-talk
      • "I am prepared and will do well today."
      • "I've got this!
    • Read over test taking tips.
    • Request a tutor.

Kutztown University Counseling Center is there to help if test anxiety persists.