Six (6) Tips in Managing Test Anxiety in Nursing School

We all have had these days in nursing school: the dreaded examination days. Though you spent sleepless nights and countless hours studying for the exams, you still feel all nervous and unprepared. You still get those exam jitters a few days to a day before the exam itself. Test anxiety can impact your ability to concentrate and perform well on exams. How do you deal with these jitters? How do you manage test anxiety when in nursing school? Here’s how.

1. Don’t just stay still, move!
When you are studying, you might want to walk around a bit for a change of scenery. While during exams, you may try stretching your arms and flexing your toes or your feet. But be sure that you aren’t disturbing others who are also taking the test. Moving increases blood flow, which in turn increases oxygen flow to your brain.

2. Relax, breathe.
Yes, you read that right. Breathe. Take long deep breaths. Try a cycle of 9 seconds: 3 seconds breathing in through your nose, 3 seconds holding your breath, 3 seconds exhaling through your mouth. This also increases oxygen to the brain, and helps you to clear your head.

3. Drink water
If allowed, you may want to take sips from a water bottle throughout the test to moisten your mouth, and keep some napkins or a small towel with you to dry off your hands since the adrenaline that causes you to feel jittery before a test will also dry out your mouth and cause you to sweat.

4. Consider your meals
Eat light, nutritious meals and stay away from fatty or heavy foods prior to the exam. Having test anxiety may give you nausea, stomach cramps, or diarrhea and all these can be very aggravating in a test situation.

5. Don’t do anything overly tiring.
Remember this, do not wear yourself out the day before your exam. Save your energy for the mind-boggling and exhausting day ahead of you: your exam day. Also, try to relax the night before the exam. Do something enjoyable and relaxing before going to sleep and go to bed early.

6. Think happy thoughts. Distract yourself
Think of a happy place, may it either be a fond memory, close friend, favorite photo, a reward you’ll give yourself after the exam. This is to give your brain a break from the anxiety associated with the topic at hand.

Liane Clores, RN MAN

Currently an Intensive Care Unit nurse, pursuing a degree in Master of Arts in Nursing Major in Nursing Service Administration. Has been a contributor of Student Nurses Quarterly, Vox Populi, The Hillside Echo and the Voice of Nightingale publications. Other experience include: Medical-Surgical, Pediatric, Obstetric, Emergency and Recovery Room Nursing.

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