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  • Study Break Series: How to Avoid Panicking During a Difficult Test

  • Have you ever started a test and found the first question to be quite tough? And then you start to panic because you have no idea how to answer it? I have too.

    As the panic worsens, you try to move to the next question, but now all of that nervousness results in an inability to focus.

    Believe it or not, this is a common occurrence and. even after hours of efficient studying, the panic can erase all of this effort. It is almost as if you had blown off studying altogether.

    Five Tips to Avoid Panic

    Before the panic affects your performance on the test, try out these tips to help you.

    1. Scope the questions. Look through all of the questions and figure out which ones are easy, doable, and difficult. Finish the easy questions first, and then move onto the doable ones. This will boost your confidence, and you will not be concerned about wasting time.
    2. Create a time limit. A common mistake is to spend too much time on the easy questions. Assign more time for doable and worrisome questions, and try to leave some time at the end to rework the harder ones.
    3. Grab points. Instead of thinking what percent would earn you an A or B in the class, try to earn every possible partial credit point. In most college classes, your grade is relative to the performance of your classmates. If you have studied and are having a difficult time, then other people are likely struggling too. Instead of panicking and leaving full questions blank, you can write every step that comes to mind. Remember, the little points add up!
    4. Ask questions. Once you have finished the easy and doable questions, determine if there is any ambiguity with the difficult ones. Ask the professor or teaching assistant (TA) to clarify that you are reading the question the right way.
    5. Clean up your answers. If you are totally stumped on a worrisome question, go back to the doable ones, and clean up your answers. Double check your work, and make your answers the best possible. This will help offset what you left blank or only partially completed.

    If you have been studying efficiently, believe in what you know. Even if you panic during the test, try not to lose control of your time. You have got this!

    Do you have a strategy for remaining calm and focused during an exam? Let me know in the comments below!