These tips will help you, regardless of your age, background, or career. Even as a 30-year-old data analyst and consultant, I’m regularly taking tests. I just finished taking the final exam from the class People School, and I found myself implementing some of these tips because I started to panic.
What Is Causing Anxiety?
The answer will be different for each person and each scenario, but in general, it’s about the unknown, about uncertainty. Tony Robbins likes to say, “When you are certain, you have no fear.”
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Without further ado, let’s get started:
Tip #1: Prepare early and often.
With standardized tests like SAT or IELTS, you usually have a few months before you must take the test to progress your career.
You can take advantage of this time by preparing and practicing in advance. For example, IELTS.org has sample questions you can review. Tutors and coaches can also help you by assessing your sticking points and blind spots that you could not accomplish through self-study.
It’s also pretty standard to get assigned tests without much time or material to prepare for them.
How do you prepare for these tests when you have less than a day to study?
It’s okay to ask what kind of questions you can expect on the test. What I’ve done is use google, and YouTube searches for the tests, and for how to complete specific tasks such as Index Match in Microsoft Excel. That’s how I passed the test for Microsoft Access, even though I had never used it before.
Tip#2: Let Go Of Perfectionism
If you are feeling nervous, part of the reason might be because you think that failure is not an option.
So I recommend two things here;
First, I recommend permitting yourself to fail.
This might sound counter-intuitive, but this will alleviate some pressure. For the English Proficiency tests, most students have to take it 2 or 3 times to pass.
Secondly, you should have contingency plans.
In my line of work, sometimes I get handed tests that I have little chance of passing. Earlier this year, I got a SQL Developer test asking me questions that were well beyond my knowledge.
I was frustrated at first, but then I reminded myself that it’s okay if I fail, I can apply for other jobs or do more training after the test. When I finished the test, my contingency plan was to explain why I think I failed this test and how I have used SQL in my past roles so I can show that I’m still suitable for this position.
This strategy allowed me to calm down, focus, and finish the test instead of procrastinating. I ended up passing the test despite my lack of confidence.
Tip #3: Slow Down
When you are feeling anxious, you might feel pressure to try and complete the test as fast as possible, because you don’t want to feel the anxiety. It’s actually in your best interest to do the opposite.
I live by the mantra “Accuracy over Speed.”
One of the most important things you can do is carefully read the directions.
In both the English proficiency tests and some of the assessment tests I’ve taken, they have these things called “distractors,” which provide misleading information and are used to catch people who rush the test.
An example question that comes up is something like, “Which of the following is not a step in the process?” If you are not careful, you will misread the question and answer incorrectly. This almost happened to me today during my test; they did a great job of carefully wording the questions and answers to test us.
I provided an overview of what causes anxiety for tests, and I offered 3 tips for dealing with tests.
I would like you to think about the next test is coming up and see how you can apply these tips. You can also think about your last tests, what problems you struggled with, and why. Did you give yourself time to prepare? Were you too focused on the outcome? Did you rush through the test?
Please write a comment or send me an e-mail or a message on LinkedIn. If you have experiences like these, I would love to hear them.