Tests often provoke feelings of nerves, and the SAT/ACT tests aren’t meant to be fun. They are designed as long marathons covering lots of ground in a limited time. Their very natures are anxiety-producing. There are several ways in which we can harness our test-related anxiety:

Have a Methodical, Practiced Approach

On tests, students often get into a rut of not being able to answer the question or not knowing what to do. Having a strict approach that you can repeat for each question type frees up your active memory to let you focus on the important information in front of you: with a clear approach worked out with a tutor, no matter how difficult the question, you have the tools to tackle it. Students can also embrace the action of moving on from the tough question! Every question is worth the same: never pause for too long on the one question- if one is causing you stress, take a breath, reset and move on.

A good starting approach for every question is as follows:

  • Read the full question and underline its key words
  • Annotate the graph or passage and/or write out your full working
  • Check each step of your working before moving on: choose a type of mark (a tick, a dash, a star) to make on your test paper next to the answer working to indicate you have done this, and it is time to move on.
Study the Test

Closely examine the test design of papers you have already taken => start thinking like a test taker not maker and design your preparation programme to align with the marathon nature of the test: build in practice tests to imitate the environment and grow the stamina needed. This is how you will get to good SAT scores.

Have a Routine

We might not be able to control what questions we face, but we can control how we prepare for them! Aim to minimise the number of unknown variables on test day: plan your breakfast (protein-filled!), your route to the testing centre, what snacks you will bring, your schedule in the days before the test to maximise sleep, and what techniques you will use for each question type. If you would like further input into what techniques are best for your good SAT scores, consider private tutoring!

Be Kind to Yourself

Practice verbalising your fears and expressing self-compassion – everyone experiences these feelings, and in fact those nerves are likely a good thing for your testing performance!

Set expectations for success: realise that the vast majority of students take the test 2-3 times – think of your first exam as a reconnaissance.

 Enquiry Form

Conquer Test Anxiety: Top Tips
Scroll to top