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University Life & Services


Study Habits & Test Anxiety

The following information provides tips for better study habits and decreased test anxiety.

The Immediate Environment

The environment in which you study can have a big effect on how efficient your study time is. Check your place of study for the following conditions:

Minimize distracting noise. Some people need some sound and some like silence. Find what works for you.

Culprits are family and friends. Consider a "do not disturb sign" and turning on your answering machine. You can catch up with folks later.

75 watt bulbs are best, but not too close and placed opposite the dominant hand.

Better cool than warm.

Have plenty of room to work; don't be cramped. Your study time will go better if you take a few minutes at the start to straighten things up.

A desk and straight-backed chair is usually best. Don't get too comfortable--a bed is a place to sleep, not study.

Have everything (book, pencils, paper, coffee, dictionary, laptop, calculator, tape recorder, etc.) close at hand. Don't spend your time jumping up and down to get things.

Preparing for or Anticipating Test Anxiety

Confronting and Handling Test Anxiety

Coping with the Feeling of Being Overwhelmed

Reinforcing Self-Statements

List of Self Verbalizations

The list below contains some common thoughts and worries which many test anxious people have. Check those which you can identify with most. Feel free to add statements which more accurately reflect what usually goes on in your head.

A. Worry About Performance

I should have studied more...I'll never get through.
I just want to finish and get out of here and hope for the best.
I don't know anything...what's the matter with me.
My minds a blank...I'll never get the answer...I must really be stupid.
I can't figure out what the professor way I'll do well on this test.
I can't remember a thing...this always happens to me...I never do well on anything.
Only 10 minutes left...there are so many questions...I'll never get through everything.
I just can't think...why did I ever take this course.
It's no use...might as well give up.
I knew this stuff yesterday...what's wrong with me.
My mind's a blank...I'm just not cut out for this.
I have to get an people always get A's.
This stuff is easy...I should get everything right.
This is terrible, absolutely the worst test I've ever had.
I'm just a no good, terrible, worthless person.

B. Worry About Bodily Reactions

I'm sick...I'll never get through.
I'm sweating all's really hot in here.
My hands are shaking again...can't even hold the lousy pen.
My stomach's going crazy...churning and jumping.
Here it comes...I'm getting really tense again...normal people just don't get like this.

C. Worry About How Others Are Doing

I know everyone's doing better than I am.
I must be the dumbest one in the class.
I'm going to be the last one done again...I must really be stupid.
No one else seems to be having I the only one?

D. Worry About Possible Negative Consequences:

If I fail this test, I'll:
flunk the course
be kicked out of school
never get into graduate school
have to get A's on the midterm and final
have to go to summer school
never get a good grade
never graduate on time
never get the kind of job I want
my family (or friends, boyfriend/girlfriend, teacher, etc.) will really be disappointed in me...I'll never be able to face them again
everyone will think I'm stupid...I'll really be embarrassed

Goal Setting

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