Test Anxiety

Some Typical Causes of Test Anxiety

  • Pressure to do well (self, family, others)
  • Being unprepared for the test
  • Using stimulants to study
  • Poor study habits
  • Ineffective test taking strategies
  • Competing with others vs. focus on self
  • Lack of sleep
  • Assuming one test will determine future
  • Sense of time pressure

Effective Studying Can Greatly Reduce Test Anxiety

  • Find where you study best and use it!
  • Take reasonable breaks: usually about 5 or 10 minutes per hour
  • Show up for every class and participate in discussion or by asking questions
  • Keep up on readings and assignments: getting behind produces anxiety
  • Study a small amount each day to improve retention: avoid cramming
  • Interact with the material in several different ways: read, outline, take and review notes, use flash cards, make diagrams, join a study group
  • Quiz yourself after reading each section then again at the end of each chapter

    (memory of readings at 2 weeks is about 20%: self-testing once improves memory to about 55%, and twice improves memory to about 75%)
  • Find someone who will simulate a test with you: each make up questions and take each others "test"
  • Look at instructor's file of previous tests to identify their testing style

Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.

~Babe Ruth

Test Taking Skills

Short answer Tests

  • Budget your time
  • Do the easier questions first
  • Answer each question
  • Use the full time allowed


  • Read all questions first
  • Answer difficult questions last
  • Make sure you understand the question
  • Briefly outline before writing

Objective exams

  • Answer questions in the order given
  • Take time to consider your choice

If unsure of an answer, you may get a clue in a later question: return to it later.

Some places to consider for help with study or test taking skills

  • Instructors or teaching assistants
  • Resident advisors
  • Friends or classmates

KU Study Skill Resources