How To Overcome GRE Test Anxiety
Students who stress over tests might dread sitting for the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE). However, the fact is that most students who prepare for an exam do experience some anxiety. It is only when this stress turns into panic that it can be a problem.
Fortunately, if you are feeling anxious about taking the GRE, it’s important to come up with a GRE study plan, along with taking some practical steps to reduce your anxiety.
10 Steps to Prepare for the GRE
- With the help of academic counselors or personal tutors, you can develop excellent study habits and discover new learning strategies.
- Learn how to manage your time and set a firm study schedule.
- Stick to your study plans and try to avoid distractions and procrastination when it is time to sit down and study.
- Organize all the material that you need to study, and use a step-by-step plan so that you don’t get overwhelmed.
- Find ways to tone down the pressure that comes from outside forces like competitiveness, peer pressure, and scores.
- Do practice tests and don’t focus on your score. Instead, see what you need to learn. When you overcome your weak points, your scores will naturally go up.
- Use positive psychological techniques to approach the GRE with confidence. For instance, you can journal, study with a team, do numerous practical runs, talk to yourself, and visualize yourself being successful.
- Since anxiety arises from fear of failure, you can reduce this fear by being thoroughly prepared for the exam.
- Organize all the study material you will need for taking the GRE, make a checklist of all the things that you need to learn, and mark off all the things you have learned after you study. If organizing what you have to do is difficult for you because you are not sure what is required, then look for an online GRE prep test, where everything has been laid out for you and all you have to do is follow along.
- Avoid cramming. Prepare many months ahead of the date of the exam
On the Day of the GRE
Before the day of the GRE, get some physical exercise to sharpen your brain, eat well throughout the day, avoid anything stressful, and get a good night’s sleep. Then on the day of the exam, get up early, go for a walk, and have a nutritious meal. Avoid any kind of junk food – packaged foods high in fats, salt, sugar, and loaded with artificial ingredients. Eat a light meal, like fresh fruits or vegetables so that you don’t feel sleepy as your food digests.
Allow yourself plenty of time to get to the place where the exam will be held. If you are allowed to pick your seat early, find a place where you will have good lighting and few distractions.
Avoid doing what other students might be doing—like cramming or complaining about how unprepared they are. Instead of associating with negative thinkers who will drain your emotional energy, make an effort to stay in a calm, relaxed, and confident mood.
During the GRE
Read all the instructions carefully.
Calculate how much time you have to do the questions. Focus on doing all the easy questions first, then come back to tackle the more difficult ones.
If your mind goes blank, breathe in and out a few times, and then think about the question in a relaxed way. If this does not help, then progressively tense and relax your muscles. Once you calm down, your brain will begin to work again.
Use all the time you have available. There is no absolutely no benefit to getting done quicker than other people. If you do finish quickly, use the time to review all your answers.
Talk to yourself in a positive way. Remind yourself that you studied hard and that you are calm and in control. Keep your anxiety manageable by using relaxation techniques and positive self-talk.