Top 5 Test Anxiety Safety Nets


Be Prepared - Know what you’re walking into-

Way back when you were a nervous little freshman, you attended an orientation at your high school to calm your nerves and learn the layout of the school, your schedule, your teachers, your locker, etc…

Before you take an SAT or an ACT do the same thing. Orient yourself! Check out and or do a quick Google search to learn the format, timing, subjects tested, multiple choice, fill-in, etc… Take an online free practice test. Buy an official prep guide on Amazon for $20. Take a test prep class. Hire a tutor, etc...


Have a plan: 

What if you panic during the test?  Choose a calming strategy: Close your eyes, count to 10, take deep breaths, pray, go to a happy place, “I can get through the next 5 minutes and the next 5 minutes, etc…”

Concerned about timing?  Bring an old-fashioned watch with hands. Set it to noon at the beginning of each test, then it becomes a stopwatch to track your time.

Running out of time?  Since we never leave a blank - Choose A, A, A, A, A (SAT) OR A, F, A, F, A (ACT) to pick up a couple of very valuable points.


Remember the good news: These tests are so difficult that 75% accuracy = an amazing score!  Most students are not shooting for 90-100% like you would in school. Students who receive a national average score are getting only 50% correct. So 65-80% accuracy is pretty awesome!Also remember the light at the end of the tunnel; this will end. Plan on grabbing your favorite lunch on the way home! (My daughter ‘s happy thoughts of an upcoming Wendy’s Frosty got her through her first ACT!)


Perspective -  This is not life and death, it’s simply a test. In most cases, you can take it again and again. Also, when you’re about 25 years old and all dressed up in a business suit on your first official job interview, no one is going to ask you, “What was your SAT/ACT score?” They are going to ask you lots of college questions: Where did you attend college? What was your GPA? What did you major in? What clubs were you in? So these scores are really important now, but in the grand scheme, in the real world, these scores won’t matter.


Self Affirmation - Remember this when you need a pick-me-up! My dignity and value are worth much more than GPAs and test scores.  I am a student, a daughter or a son, a sister, a brother, a friend, a girlfriend or a boyfriend, a musician, an athlete, a volunteer, a gamer, an artist, etc… I will do my best, however, I am not defined by numbers.

Mary Thomas, licensed teacher, mom of teens, founder of Test Prep Simplified :-)

One Comment on “Top 5 Test Anxiety Safety Nets”

  1. Great advice and great perspective in test taking in general !! Thank you for the insight …..

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