I've taken plenty of tests over the years, allowing me to make plenty of errors. On the bright side, all of my mistakes have allowed me to create a lot of test hacks. So, here are a few of my best tips that I follow in order to deal with stress on the day of the big test.

Reduce Stress the Morning of the Exam:

Be prepared

Before you enter that testing zone, make sure that you have all your supplies. Find out beforehand what you are allowed to bring to avoid any unnecessary surprises. I learned the hard way that my school doesn't allow us to test with our pencil cases or with water bottles that have any removable wrapping. Instead of using a clear ziplock bag like everyone else, I had to hastily empty out my well-organized pencil case.

Eat well

Writing an exam is like training for a marathon. In order to succeed, you need to eat well and hydrate. The proper nutrients help you to reduce stress during the test because you don't have to worry about how loud your stomach is growling. It helps you to focus on your task, and not on what your post-test snack will be. 

Dress comfortably

When you are running a marathon you want to have the best sports attire to keep you moving. The same principle applies to writing an exam, except comfort and layers are key. This way, you can add or peel off a layer based on how you are feeling. No one wants to be the girl who is filling out the scantron card with one hand, and fanning herself with the other.

Review (briefly)

The key word here is briefly. Don't cram, especially not right before the exam. Trust me, it will just add to the amount of stress you may already be feeling. Once you've finished reviewing, take a break and move on to the next step.


Take a few minutes to imagine yourself taking the test. Picture yourself being confident, and recite positive phrases to psyche yourself up, not out. This is a small, yet crucial step which can help me reduce stress while putting a smile on my face.

Reduce Stress During the Test:

Don't sweat the small stuff

Do not devote your whole time to one single question. Try it, but if you are still stumped, bookmark it and return to it later. Focus on the questions that you can answer, then come back to the rest when you have a clearer mind, and can approach it from a new angle.

Read the question

I've been one of those people who skimmed through a question to save time, thought she understood it and dove right in, only to realize that I had either missed some critical info or answered the wrong portion. Don't be that person, make the right choice and read the entire question.

Tune out everyone else

When studying for the SATs, every website I read kept telling me to not worry about anyone else because they were completing a different section than me. I only looked up for two reasons during the test: to check the time and to check the time until our next break. During one of those moments, I looked to the right and saw the person beside me zooming through the questions. In retrospect, this was either because he had been completing the grammar portion while I had been doing math or because he was just a whizkid. Either way, it managed to make me anxious, lose my focus and my mojo.

Pace yourself

The clock is your best friend, and time is your enemy. Having a watch is a great way to help you stay on track, and pace yourself so that you don't spend too much time on one section.


P.S. Check out, How to Deal with Stress Before the Big Test Day.