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  • Deirdre Brandner

7 Ways to Manage VCE Exam Anxiety



Test anxiety is very normal. A little bit of anxiety can actually assist in alloing our brain functioning better but too much anxiety is counterproductive. The best way to combat test anxiety is to feel prepared, however some students take this to the extreme.

I tell my clients that you can never know everything that is going to be on that exam....even if you have been studying extensively. You need to be as prepared as you can be and stay calm enough to evidence your knowledge on the day.


1. Prepare

Do practice exams in timed conditions.....without cheat notes!


2. Visualise walking into the exam room. Visualise what it will feel like, what you will do in reading time, when you will start writing or answering questions.....and how relieved you will feel when it’s over


3. Stop the negative self talk cycle......it will breed stress and worry.

“I’m going to do terribly”...”I don’t know anything”....”I’m going to fail”

You don’t have to replace these with fake, positive, unrealistic statements but logical thoughts such as….”at least I’ll be one exam down after this”, “I will know some answers”, “I’m just going to go in and do what I can”


4. Prepare you mind and body

Eat a healthy dinner and/or breakfast. Protein in the morning helps keep us alert and energised, carbohydrates at night help you sleep.

Try to get a good night’s sleep. Do not study the evening before the exam....this is pointless and stress evoking.

Use relaxation, music, podcast to help you get to sleep.


5. Avoid Disasters on the day

Have a back up plan if trains, trams or buses aren’t running.

Don’t get there too early because stress can be contagious, however don’t leave it to the last minute.

Make sure you have what you need laid out the night before.....pens/pencils, calculator, ID, bound reference if allowed or any other essentials.


6. What if I panic when I get in there.....

Some students become anxious during reading time as they review the questions and may think “I don’t know any of this?”

You need reset your physiological response to these unhelpful thoughts.

Deep breathing in and out at least 5 times, in through your nose and out through your mouth...this will help your heart rate get back to normal

Clench your fists and your toes, hold and then release, this will help the blood flow back to your extremities.

Now focus on the questions that you do know.

Allocate time to each section.


7. When the exam is over ….

Do not discuss with your peers or check over answers on the internet. Nothing will be gained by this. Don’t judge how you did by other’s response to the exam...”oh that was so easy”...or “that was the worst exam ever”. This will not change your mark, just impact your mood.

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© 2019 Deirdre Brandner Psychologist