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Managing Test-taking Stress

Sonia's Challenge


Sonia is competing in a regional gymnastics championship. Her performance determines if the team wins by the needed two points. She panics: “There's no way I can do this. I'll blow my routine and lose the championship for the team, everyone will blame me.” Sonia loses concentration and feels nauseous. The nausea is a trigger; she recognizes what she's doing to herself. Immediately, she tells herself: “STOP IT! This isn't helping. You've practiced your routine, you're ready, in top form. Go out there and do it.” Sonia breathes deeply and visualizes going through her program. By the time her event is called, she is calm and focused.

Sonia experienced what many people feel in a performance situation - ANXIETY. As a college student, typically your performance situations are tests. Practice Sonia's anxiety management techniques in the following scenario:

You need an “A” on your midterm exam so you can keep your 3.5 g.p.a.. On your way to the test, you panic: “I'll flunk this test, I didn't study the right things, I just don't do well on these kinds of tests. If I blow my g.p.a., I'll lose my scholarship and my chance at graduate school. My parents will blame me for not working hard enough.” Your mind goes blank, you feel nauseous. The nausea is a trigger; you recognize what you're doing to yourself. Immediately, you tell yourself : “___________!. This isn't _______. I've studied _____________, I'm ready, I have done well on tests like this.” You breathe deeply and visualize your study notes and working through the exam question by question. By the time you get to class, you are calm and focused.


Just as you were able to complete this exercise, so can you successfully prepare for and take your tests - without excessive anxiety. You will learn how to do this by working through the following modules: