Tips for Helping with Test Anxiety and the SAT®

October 30, 2017, 01:45 PM

tips for test anxiety and sat

How To Create a Stress-Free Testing Experience


Finding ways to reduce test anxiety is super-important for high performance. While it is totally normal to get a little nervous before a test, you don’t want to become so anxious that your performance suffers. Here are a few tips to help make the SAT® a low-stress event.


Tip #1: Remember that Mild Anxiety is Normal


First off, feeling a little anxious before taking a test is very normal. Some students even perform better with a small dose of adrenaline running through their veins. Even expert test takers experience slightly sweaty palms and a faster heartbeat at the beginning of the test. It is totally normal. Having an unrealistic expectation that you will not experience any symptoms of anxiety may actually make you more anxious (kind of ironic, huh).


Tip #2: Practice, Practice, Practice


While this might seem obvious, students who prepare for the SAT® feel less anxious and more confident. At Kranse, our online tutorials make getting ready for the SAT® fun and manageable. No three-hour classes or boring lectures. When you sign up for our new mobile SAT® app, you can automatically track and measure your progress, right up until test day!


Make sure that you take at least one full-length practice SAT® test before sitting for the real one. Even better, get someone else to time your sections.  When you sit to take the real SAT®, you will feel more confident.


Tip #3: Get Everything Ready the Night Before


The night before the real SAT® is a great time to RELAX. Don’t cram in last minute study sessions. Take it easy, clear your mind, and just chill.


The day before is, however, the perfect time to collect everything you need for the next day, such as:


  • Photo ID
  • Registration Ticket
  • Calculator
  • Pencils
  • Watch
  • Snack
  • Water Bottle


    By preparing the night before, you will be much more relaxed the day you take the actual test.


    Tip #4: Visualize a Positive Experience


    Many highly successful athletes use visualization techniques before important events. If you want to “supercharge” your pre-test preparation, take some time to “visualize” an optimal testing experience.


    Here’s a simple exercise: Turn off your music, close your textbooks, hide your cell phone and find a chair. Take 10 minutes to visualize yourself successfully taking the exam. Really bring it to life. Imagine the room, your desk, and the actual test. Observe yourself taking the exam in an efficient and relaxed manner. Even visualize yourself coming across a difficult problem, and rather than getting scared, pausing and using the strategies that you have been learning to successfully answer the question.


    While visualizing yourself taking the test, create a symbol that represents your successfully completing the test. Whenever you get nervous or tired, call to mind your personal symbol for a little confidence boost.


    Tip #5: Minimize Social Media


    Psychologists are beginning to see correlations with social media and teen anxiety, so try not to spend the night before on social media, and in particular, avoid any discussions about the SAT® the day before (the week before, if you can do it). If other students start expressing test anxiety, you might begin to “mirror” someone else’s feelings (even if you aren’t aware you are doing this). Suddenly, you start feeling anxious and less confident because someone else just posted and expressed those feelings.


    Tip #6: Get A Good Night’s Sleep


    The best thing for your brain is sleep, and teenagers are not getting enough. Make sure to turn out the lights early. If you typically sleep with your phone, take a night off. Teens sleep better when there is no temptation to look at the phone in the middle of the night.



    Tip #7: Eat a Good Breakfast


    Think of the SAT® test as a marathon not a sprint. You are basically “running” for five hours straight, with very few breaks, so you need to fuel yourself as if you are getting ready for an athletic event. That means go light on the simple carbs, like sugary cereal and donuts (you’ll be starving by mid-test) and go heavy on the complex carbs and protein (eggs and whole wheat toast or bagel with lots of cream cheese), which burn more slowly, preventing you from running low on fuel too quickly.


    Make sure to bring a snack, preferably nuts, a granola bar, or a piece of fruit. Something healthy and slow burning (not a candy bar or potato chips). Not all proctors allow food, but bring it anyways in case you can eat a quick bite during the ten-minute break.


    As far as water goes, bring a bottle, but time it right. Don’t guzzle a ton when you know it could be two hours until your next bathroom break.


    Tip #8: Breathe!


    The simplest and quickest way to relax is to simply take a deep breath. Breathe in, counting to five. Hold your breath for a second, and then breathe out, counting to five. If you start to feel tired or stressed, just take a deep, conscious breath. I promise you will feel much better (and smarter) afterwards.


    Get 30% off digital SAT® PSAT/NMSQT® prep course enrollment with code COACH30 when ordering online at








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