Date Published: June 30th, 2020
Test anxiety can hit at any time during your nursing education. Sometimes it’s because you don’t feel fully prepared. Sometimes it’s because the test really is hugely important, like the NCLEX, and all the studying in the world isn’t going to calm all the nervous feelings. While hitting the books and reviewing your notes is always going to be the most important part of feeling calm and ready for your next test, there are some additional steps you can take to help quell those nerves.
1) Know the test format: For tests during your nursing education, make sure you’re clear on the testing format and types of questions you’ll be getting during the test. If you know what to expect, you’ll feel a stronger sense of control about the situation. If you have the NCLEX looming on the horizon, make sure you understand all testing center requirements and processes and take some time to learn about Computerized Adaptive Testing.
2) Get some sleep: Cramming the night before won’t get you very far! Do yourself a favor and get some sleep. You’ll do better on the test if you’re feeling refreshed instead of fighting to keep your eyes open.
3) Testing at home? Have a quiet space ready to go: If there’s ever a time to silence your phone, turn off notifications, and (if you’re testing at home) put your pet in a different room, this is it.
For more study-at-home tips, check out How to Create a Home Study Space
4) Prepare all your materials ahead of time: Some instructors may allow you to have a calculator, notepad and pencil, or even your notes to help you get through a test. Gather all the things you’ll need for your test and have them ready beforehand. If you’re taking the test on your own computer, make sure your power cord is nearby, too – you don’t want your computer’s battery to die when you’re almost finished with a test!
5) Read directions and questions more than once: If you have any hesitations about directions or about the answer to a question, take a deep breath and read it again. Read questions a couple of times especially when you’re nervous or find yourself reading too quickly – it can take a few minutes to really get into the test-taking mindset, so give yourself some time to get there.
6) Use the process of elimination: Eliminate every answer you know or think may be wrong to give yourself a higher chance of picking the correct one. This is an especially important tactic for the NCLEX, which uses Computer Adaptive Testing (CAT). CAT means you can’t skip questions or go back to items you skipped – the test is using your right or wrong answers to determine what questions to give you next. You may find yourself having to guess an answer from time to time.
When test time comes up, take a deep breath, read the instructions, and get started. You’ll feel better once you answer a few questions. Soon, the test will be another moment on your path to a career in nursing!
Want more tips to help combat stress? Check out 7 Tips for Reducing Stress During Uncertain Times