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Adjusting to College Life



Stress and Relaxation

Test Anxiety


What is anxiety?

  • Anxiety is the feeling of worry, apprehension, fear and/or panic in response to situations which seem overwhelming, threatening, unsafe, or uncomfortable.
  • Anxiety is the body’s way of alerting you that some kind of action is needed in the face of a situation that is perceived to be threatening or dangerous.
  • Anxiety can be useful or adaptive whenever it prompts you to take appropriate action in response to an anxiety-provoking situation. For example, anxiety can motivate you to study for an exam, organize a presentation, or leave situations that feel unsafe.
  • Anxiety can also be detrimental in certain situations. For example, it may be detrimental if you avoid studying for an exam that worries you, or if you cope with worry about your relationship by getting unnecessarily suspicious and then yelling at your partner.

Anxiety is a basic human emotion, so how do you know if your anxiety is a problem?

The following will help you determine whether anxiety could be partly responsible for some of the problems you are experiencing. 

  • Do I feel anxious more often than not throughout my day?
  • Have I restricted my activities as a way of coping with anxiety?
  • Do I experience panic or panic-like symptoms in certain predictable situations?
  • Am I intensely fearful of specific situations or things (e.g. heights)?
  • Do I experience acute anxiety in social situations?
  • Have I developed elaborate rituals or thought-processes to manage anxiety?
  • Is my anxiety related to a specific, traumatic event?

If you answered yes to some of these questions, you may have more specific questions about the anxiety symptoms you may be experiencing.

Treatment for Anxiety

If anxiety symptoms are interfering with your ability to do routine, day-to-day activities, or if you have restricted your life activities as a way of coping with anxiety, you should consider seeking professional help. There are currently a variety of highly effective interventions available for the treatment of anxiety, including psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapies, and medication. If you seek treatment, the recommendations you receive will likely depend on the specific symptoms you are experiencing.

What Can I Do?

It is usually helpful to identify the events surrounding the experience of anxiety:

  • What provokes the anxiety?
  • What thoughts or physical sensations accompany the anxiety?
  • How distressing is the anxiety?
  • How are you coping with the anxiety?

Exploring these accompanying events may provide useful information about the nature of the anxiety as well as possible strategies for reducing it. In addition, here are specific changes that you can make that may help alleviate symptoms:

  • Exercise or engage in some form of daily physical activity
  • Eat a nutritious and well-balanced diet
  • Obtain an adequate amount of sleep
  • Seek emotional support from friends and family
  • Focus on positive aspects of your life
  • Establish realistic, attainable goals that do not rely on perfectionistic values
  • Monitor how you think about stress and reduce and/or change negative thoughts
  • Identify activities that feel overwhelming and reduce your involvement or seek ways to make them more manageable
  • Consult with a physician if you are experiencing any medical problems
  • Consult with a mental health professional at the Bruder Center if you continue to be concerned about your anxiety
  • Reduce or eliminate the use of alcohol and drugs and limit your caffeine intake
  • Don’t engage in “emotional reasoning” (e.g. “because I feel awful, my life is terrible”)
  • Don’t assume responsibility for events that are outside of your control 


Making the Transition to College

 Here are some common changes that you can expect during your first year on campus:

  • New environment and relationships: First-year students must adapt to an unfamiliar environment, adjust to different living arrangements, and develop new relationships. Living with roommates may be the first "test" freshmen experience. Students face the challenge of adjusting to roommates who may have very different boundaries and individual needs than family and friends from home. Roommates may or may not develop close friendships, but communication and compromise can build a smoother transition. College brings a unique opportunity to interact and live with students from various backgrounds and cultures. Expanding your worldview by learning about each other’s differences and similarities will enhance your college experience.
  • Greater personal freedom: Living on your own for the first time means that you will gain independence and take charge of many decisions that your parents and teachers made for you in the past. While this newfound freedom can be exciting, it may also feel overwhelming and less predictable than what you are accustomed to. The freedom to manage your daily life is a learning process, but one that can be very satisfying.
  • Added responsibility: First-year students must manage the important daily responsibilities that accompany their increased personal freedom. Students must make time for basic tasks such as eating, sleeping, exercising, and going to class. New students must also address more complex responsibilities such as balancing studying and socializing, participating in clubs and activities, and handling finances. Managing time is a demand that all first-year students experience. A typical day in college is less structured than high school, and there is more reading and studying that is required outside of class. Some students may feel as if they have no free time to do anything but schoolwork, while others feel like they have too much free time outside of the classroom.
  • Changing relationships: New students often face challenges such as best friends going to other universities, beginning new romantic relationships or maintaining existing ones, and juggling newly formed relationships with already established ones. Students must balance a sense of connectedness and separation while at college. Some freshmen feel the need to call or e-mail home several times a week in the first few months away, while others require less frequent communication with their family and friends.

Common Stressors

  • Time Management: Now that you are in college, there are no more eight-hour school days like those in many high schools. You may have class for six, three, or even zero hours a day. The rest of your time must be negotiated between homework, clubs and activities, work, socializing, and self-care. College students often feel as if there is just not enough time to do everything that needs to be done. Using a schedule and some organizational skills will help you to effectively manage your hectic and changing life.
  • Academic Performance: By nature, college coursework is challenging, and it can be hard to keep up with the increased academic demands. Some students undergo pressure from both themselves and their parents. There may be requirements for scholarships and graduate school admission that you have not previously experienced. In order to manage the increased demands and expectations, it is important to attend class regularly, keep up with readings and assignments, and ask for help when you need it. Professors and teaching assistants are there to assist you, and want you to succeed. If you need additional help, various organizations on campus offer tutoring services.
  • Roommate Conflict: Learning to live with someone new can be one of the most challenging aspects of going to college. Different living habits are the most common source of roommate conflict (i.e. neat vs. messy; quiet vs. noisy; early-to-bed vs. up-all-night). Failure to communicate your expectations about living together can lead to tension and eventually conflict. To avoid “roommate fallout” you should communicate your needs and expectations respectfully, while recognizing your own habits and quirks that might affect your relationship. If conflict does escalate you should take it to a Resident Advisor, Resident Director, or a Counselor to determine a course of action.
  • Long Distance Dating Relationships: It is not uncommon for first-year students to begin college in a long distance dating relationship. Where at one time this relationship may have helped you cope with everyday stress, it could now be a source of distress due to the distance between you and your partner. Uncertainty in what the future holds for the relationship is one of the most common stressors experienced by college students in long distance dating relationships. There are a few key efforts that each partner can make to lessen the sting of separation. Verbal communication, openness, and assurance of one another can reduce stress associated with being separated. It is also essential for each partner to seek social support from others and remain active in their individual lives while apart.
  • Body Image: Our culture pays a great deal of attention to the appearance of our bodies, particularly during young adulthood. Media representations of the ideal body, messages from peers, and other cultural factors shape what we perceive as “normal” or “good”. It can be difficult to have a clear, healthy perspective on ourselves and our bodies when our culture sends so many confusing, conflicting, and sometimes unhealthy messages. This can be stressful at a time when many are trying to “fit in” with others and make new, exciting relationships. If you find yourself preoccupied with how you look or become distressed about your body, discussing your concerns and ideas with someone can be extremely helpful in creating, developing, and maintaining a body image that is healthful and fulfilling.

Recommendations for First-Year College Students

  • Be patient: While campus may seem new and overwhelming for new students, it becomes more familiar with time.
  • Connect with other students: If you talk to other students, you are likely to discover that they share similar questions and concerns. Your RA is an excellent person to go to when issues arise. He or she is equipped to help you solve problems and refer you to appropriate resources
  • Get involved: Student organizations are a fun way to interact with other students and faculty. Meeting people with similar interest and goals is an exciting way to make friends and participate in social activities
  • Utilize resources: There are numerous resources on campus designed to create a rewarding college experience.
  • Care for yourself: The foundation for a productive college career is a healthy lifestyle. Take the necessary steps for nurturance, getting adequate rest, socializing, and physical activity. 

Adjust your expectations if things are not working out as you planned

  • Stay on campus: This is an important way to adjust to college. It helps you to meet new friends, develop a support group, and learn about yourself and others. You’re also close to the campus activities, the library, and extracurricular activities.
  • Stay focused: College can be a lot of fun, which makes it difficult to stay focused on your work. Remember why you’re at college in the first place and think of it as a full-time job.
  • Attend every class: Although attendance isn’t taken in every class, which makes it easier to skip, you may find it difficult to learn what you need to do for exams and papers if you choose not to go. Try your hardest to attend every class, unless you are seriously ill.
  • Manage stress: College can be an overwhelming time, but consistent stress can impact your grades and your health.  Try to manage it by exercising, practicing deep breathing, or any other methods that are helpful to you. 



Everyone occasionally feels blue or sad. But these feelings are usually short-lived and pass within a couple of days. When you have depression, it interferes with daily life and causes pain for both you and those who care about you. Depression is a common but serious illness.

Many people with a depressive illness never seek treatment. But the majority, even those with the most severe depression, can get better with treatment. Medications, psychotherapies, and other methods can effectively treat people with depression.

Symptoms of Depression

Changes in Feelings and/or Perceptions

  • Inability to find pleasure in anything
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or worthlessness
  • Exaggerated sense of guilt or self-blame
  • Loss of sexual desire
  • Loss of warm feelings towards family or friends

Changes in Behavior and Attitudes

  • Lack of interest in prior activities and withdrawal from others
  • Neglect of responsibilities and appearance
  • Irritability, complaints about matters previously taken in stride
  • Dissatisfaction about life in general
  • Impaired memory, inability to concentrate, indecisiveness, and confusion
  • Reduced ability to cope on a daily basis

Physical Symptoms

  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Complete loss of appetite or excessive eating
  • Insomnia, early morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Unexplained headaches, backaches, and similar complaints
  • Digestive problems including stomach pain, nausea, indigestion, and/or change in bowel habits

Causes of Depression

Most likely, depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.

Depressive illnesses are disorders of the brain. Brain-imaging technologies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), have shown that the brains of people who have depression look different than those of people without depression. The parts of the brain involved in mood, thinking, sleep, appetite, and behavior appear different. But these images do not reveal why the depression has occurred. They also cannot be used to diagnose depression.

Some types of depression tend to run in families. However, depression can also occur in people without family histories of depression. Scientists are studying certain genes that may make some people more prone to depression. Some genetics research indicates that risk for depression results from the influence of several genes acting together with environmental or other factors. In addition, trauma, loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, or any stressful situation may trigger a depressive episode. Other depressive episodes may occur with or without an obvious trigger.

How to Help Yourself

Being honest with yourself about changes in mood or the intensity of negative feelings as they occur will help you identify possible sources of depression or stress. You should examine your feelings and try to determine what is troubling you — relationships with family or friends, financial responsibilities, and so forth. Discussing problems with the people involved or with an understanding friend can sometimes bring about a resolution before a critical stage of stress is reached. Even mild depression should be dealt with if it interferes with your effectiveness. You might also try to:

  • Change your normal routine by taking a break for a favorite activity or something new — even if you don’t feel like it.
  • Exercise to work off tension, improve digestion, help you relax, and perhaps improve your ability to sleep.
  • Avoid known stressors.                         
  • Avoid making long-term commitments, decisions, or changes that make you feel trapped or confined — it is better to put them off until you feel you are better able to cope.
  • Seek professional help.
  • Do not wait too long to get evaluated or treated. There is research showing that the longer you wait, the greater the impairment can be down the road. Try to see a professional as soon as possible.
  • Set realistic goals for yourself.
  • Break up large tasks into small ones, set some priorities and do what you can as you can.
  • Try to spend time with other people and confide in a trusted friend or relative. Try not to isolate yourself. Let others help you.
  • Expect your mood to improve gradually, not immediately. Do not expect to suddenly “snap out of” your depression.
  • Continue to educate yourself about depression.

When it’s Necessary to Seek Professional Help

Depression is treatable, and the suffering of those who experience it can be alleviated. Consult a mental health professional if you experience any of the following circumstances:

  • When pain or problems outweigh pleasures much of the time
  • When symptoms are so severe and persistent that day-to-day functioning is impaired
  • When stress seems so overwhelming that suicide seems to be a viable option



Many students, no matter how excited they may be about college life and how independent they are, find themselves struck with homesickness.

Homesickness is a normal reaction to periods of rapid change and adjustment—like starting your freshman year of college. Homesickness doesn’t necessarily have to be about missing your home specifically (i.e. your bed), it’s often about missing what’s normal and comfortable, what you’re used to, and not quite being comfortable with your new way of life. At the core of homesickness, it’s about longing for the familiar.

Although homesickness can be painful, it can also present as an opportunity to grow and expand your comfort zone. It also presents as a chance to take charge of your life and learn new skills for dealing with emotions and others.

Here are some suggestions for helping you to deal with homesickness:

1.       Understand that what you’re going through is normal—acknowledging and accepting your homesickness is a way of learning how to live a new life. Don’t ignore your feelings! Once you know you’re homesick, you can start working towards coping with it.

2.       Get used to your new surroundings—Get familiar with your campus and the surrounding area by walking around and exploring. Scope out study spots, places to grab lunch, and quiet spots to clear your head. The more you feel like your campus “belongs” to you, the more comfortable you’ll feel.

3.       Make space for yourself at school—The discomfort of not knowing everything and everyone around you can influence your homesickness, but actively working at becoming comfortable and developing a routine and help curb your homesickness. Some ways you can occupy your time and decrease feeling lonely is by: volunteering on campus, participating in intramural sports, getting involved with Greek life, and joining a club.

4.       Stay connected with home—but not too connected. Maintaining your relationships with your family and friends from back home is important in helping you deal with homesickness; however, part of getting over homesickness is learning to decrease emotional ties from home. Talking to your friends and family once a day, while you’re still settling in” can be helpful, but try weaning yourself down to making time to talk with them a few times week.  Try posting pictures and things from home in your room.

5.       Talk to other students (or professionals) on campus—It’s easy to feel alone when you’re homesick, but other students are probably feeling the same way you are. Try talking about it to your friends or new people you’ve recently met. If you’re uncomfortable discussing it with other students, reach out to the professionals on campus—stop by the Bruder Center! Similarly, try talking about your feelings with your RA or family members.

6.       Stay positive. It will get better! Give yourself time to deal with the homesickness. Don’t let it consume you. Moving away from home and starting a new life is difficult but it gets easier. You’ve overcome difficult times before and this will be no different.

7.       Learn what helps you to relax—try deep breathing exercises, listening to music, or exercising.

8.       Be realistic when it comes to your expectations about college. Structure your time and work toward finding a healthy balance. 


What is stress?

Stress is the “wear and tear” that our bodies experience as we adjust to our continually changing environment. It has physical and emotional effects on us and can be both healthy and unhealthy.

Eustress is healthy stress:

  • Give us a new awareness and new perspective
  • It makes life exciting (e.g. when facing new experiences)
  • It can be motivating (e.g. performance situations such as exams and athletics)
  • It keeps us alert when problem solving
  • It’s temporary

Distress is when your body and mind’s stress response is prolonged. When this occurs, your stress symptoms intensify and you experience unhealthy stress and anxiety.

There are different ways that people react to stress, which produce different kinds of symptoms:

  • Physical—how your body feels
  • Cognitive—how you think
  • Social—how you interact with others
  • Spiritual—how life challenges your beliefs
  • Emotional—how you experience feelings
  • Prolonged distress can also create health problems including headaches, upset stomachs, rashes, insomnia, ulcers, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.

What are your stress symptoms?

Here is a list of symptoms to help you identify the ways in which you experience stress. Think about your symptoms during the past two weeks. You may also want to keep a record of your stress symptoms to help you monitor changes and improvements in your stress symptoms.

Physical Stress Symptoms:

  1. Sweaty palms
  2. Perspiration
  3. Dry mouth
  4. Increased heart rate
  5. Heart palpitations
  6. Feeling tired
  7. Constant fatigue
  8. Increased blood pressure
  9. Tension
  10. Headaches
  11. Weight loss or gain
  12. Excessive nervous energy
  13. Acne
  14. Eczema
  15. Tendency towards fainting
  16. Nausea
  17. Stomach or intestinal ulcers
  18. Butterflies in stomach
  19. Grinding one’s teeth
  20. Frequent heartburn
  21. Chronic diarrhea
  22. Constipation
  23. Susceptibility to allergies
  24. Illness
  25. Sexual dysfunction
  26. Lack of sexual interest
  27. Excess untamable energy

Cognitive Stress Symptoms

  1. Loss of confidence
  2. Increase in self-criticism
  3. “Black and white” thinking
  4. Negative thinking
  5. Trouble concentrating
  6. Distracted
  7. Forgetting things
  8. Disorganized
  9. Obsessive thinking
  10. Poor judgment
  11. Poor time management
  12. Procrastination
  13. Excessive worry

Emotional Stress Symptoms

  1. Prolonged sadness
  2. Too much crying
  3. Inability to cry
  4. Feeling overwhelmed
  5. Feeling like you cannot cope
  6. Feelings of hopelessness
  7. Pessimism
  8. Anxiety
  9. Feeling scared
  10. Afraid to make decisions
  11. Irritability
  12. Hostility
  13. Anger at minor things
  14. Lack of humor
  15. Inability to laugh at self
  16. Moody
  17. Depressed
  18. Anger
  19. Lack of interest in “fun”
  20. Feeling burned out

Social Stress Symptoms

  1. Isolation
  2. Resentment
  3. Nagging
  4. Distrust
  5. Intolerance of others
  6. Loneliness

Spiritual Stress Symptoms

  1. Loss of faith
  2. Doubt
  3. Loss of meaning
  4. Feelings of emptiness
  5. Cynicism
  6. Apathy
  7. Loss of direction

Our goal is to not eliminate stress but rather to learn how to manage it and how to use it to help us. If your methods of coping with stress aren’t contributing to your greater emotional and physical health, then it may be time to find healthier ones.

To help you get a better sense of how you cope with stress, here are some common negative and positive stress reducers. Think about your coping techniques during the past two weeks and keep a record of the strategies you most commonly use. By keeping a record of the techniques that you use, you can monitor changes and improvements in your coping style.

 Negative behavioral stress reducers:                                                                                                                   

  • Excessive use of alcohol                                                                                                                                             
  • Drug use                                                                                                                                                                         
  • Overeating                                                                                                                                                                      
  • Binge eating                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
  • Restricting food intake                                                                                                                                                 
  • Compulsive shopping
  • Shoplifting
  • Compulsive video gaming                                                                                                              
  • Compulsive sexual activity                                                                                                                                           
  • Compulsive computer use                                                                                                                                            
  • Compulsive gambling                                                                                                                                                    
  • Reckless driving                                                                                                                                                              
  • Unusual risk taking  

Negative emotional and social stress reducers:

  • Fault finding
  • Blaming others
  • Being too passive
  • Worrying
  • Complaining

Negative cognitive stress reducers:

  • Denial
  • Ignoring the problem
  • Imagining the worst
  • Procrastination

Positive behavioral relaxation stress reducers:                                                                                                                

  • Deep breathing                                                                                                                                                        
  • Muscle relaxation                                                                                                                                                    
  • Guided imagery                                                                                                                                                       
  • Meditation                                                                                                                                                                 
  • Yoga                                                                                                                                                                          
  • Exercise                                                                                                                                                                    
  • Eating a healthy diet                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
  • Getting enough sleep                                                                                                                                           
  • Writing in a journal                                                                                                                                                

Positive social and spiritual stress reducers:

  • Spend time in nature
  • Worship
  • Spend time with friends
  • Volunteer
  • Being assertive
  • Learning to say "no"
  • Prayer
  • Develop a support network—trust others
  • Ask for help

Positive cognitive stress reducers:

  • Change your self-talk
  • Change your perspective
  • Don’t take it personally
  • Time management
  • Looking for the positive
  • Break large tasks down
  • Acknowledge thoughts
  • Acknowledge feelings
  • Be kind to yourself
  • Believe in yourself
  • Look for the humor
  • Focus on one thing at a time

Here are some other ways to help you manage stress:

1.  Avoid unnecessary stress

  • Learn how to say “no”—know your limits and stick to them. Refuse to accept added responsibilities when you’re close to your maximum. Taking on more than you can handle can increase your stress.
  • Avoid people who stress you out—If someone consistently causes stress in yoru life and you can’t turn the relationship around, limit the amount of time you spend with that person or consider ending the relationship entirely.
  • Take control of your environment—If your stress is related to specific events, make changes. For instance, if the evening news make you anxious, turn the TV off. If traffic’s got you tense, take a longer but less-traveled route.
  • Avoid hot-button topics—If you get upset over religion or politics, cross them off your conversation list. If you repeatedly argue about the same subject with the same people, stop bringing it up or excuse yourself when it’s the topic of discussion.
  • Trim your to-do list—Analyze your schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks. If you’ve got too much on our plate, distinguish between the “shoulds” and the “musts.” Drop tasks that aren’t truly necessary to the bottom of the list or eliminate them entirely.

2. Alter the Situation

  • Express your feelings instead of bottling them up—If something or someone is bothering you, communicate your concerns in an open and respectful way. If you don’t voice your feelings, resentment will build and the situation with likely remain the same.
  • Be willing to compromise—When you ask someone to change their behaviors, be willing do the same. If you both are willing to bend at least a little , you’ll have a good chance of finding a happy middle ground.
  • Be more assertive—Don’t take a backseat in your own life. Deal with problems head on, doing your best to anticipate and prevent them. If you’ve got an exam to study for and your talkative roommate just got home, tell her up front that you only have 5 minutes to talk.
  • Manage your time better—Poor time management can cause a lot of stress. When you’re stretched too thin and running behind, it’s hard to stay calm and focused. If you plan ahead and make sure you don’t overextend yourself, you can alter the amount of stress you are under.

3.  Adapt to the Stressor

  • Reframe problems—Try to view a stressful situation from a more positive perspective. Rather than fuming about a traffic jam, look at it as an opportunity to pause and regroup, listen to your favorite radio station, or enjoy some time alone.
  • Look at the big picture—Take perspective of the stressful situation. Ask yourself how important it will be in the long run. Will it matter in a month? A year? Is it really worth getting upset over? If the answer is no, focus your time and energy elsewhere.
  • Adjust your standards—Perfectionism is a major source of avoidable stress. Stop setting yourself up for failure by demanding perfection. Set reasonable standards for yourself and others, and learn to be okay with “good enough.”
  • Focus on the positive—When stress is getting you down, take a moment to reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life, including your own positive qualities and gifts. This simple strategy can help you keep things in perspective.

4.       Accept the thing you can’t change

  • Don’t try to control the uncontrollable—Many thing in life are beyond our control—particularly the behavior of other people. Rather than stressing out over them, focus on the things you can control such as the way you choose to react to problems.
  • Look for the upside—When facing major challenges try to look at them as opportunities for personal growth. If you own choices contributed to a stressful situation, reflect on them and learn from your mistakes.
  • Share your feelings—Talk to a trusted friend or make an appointment with a therapist at the Bruder Center. Expressing what you’re going through can be helpful, even if there’s nothing you can do to alter the stressful situation.
  • Learn to forgive—Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world and that people make mistakes. Let go of anger and resentments. Free yourself from negative energy by forgiving and moving forward. 

Test Anxiety


  •  Fear of Failure—Although pressure to perform well can act as a motivator, it can also be devastating to those who tie their self-worth to the outcome of a test.
  •  Lack of Preparation—Waiting until the last minute, or not studying at all, can influence individuals to feel anxious and overwhelmed come test time.
  •  Poor Test History—Previous problems or bad experiences with test-taking can lead to a negative mindset and influence performance on future tests.

Symptoms of Test Anxiety:

  • Physical: headache, nausea, diarrhea, excessive sweating, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, light-headedness, and feeling faint.
  • Emotional: Feelings of anger, fear, helplessness, and disappointment are common emotional responses to test anxiety.
  • Behavioral/Cognitive symptoms: Difficulty concentrating, thinking negatively, comparing yourself to others, and “blanking out” are common symptoms of test anxiety.

Tips for Managing Test Anxiety:

  • Before the test—Take good care of yourself!
  • Be prepared—Study the material in advance (study at least a week or two before the exam, in smaller increments of time and over a few days); take practice tests; do not do a last-minute review right before the test.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Avoid the use of drugs and alcohol—they can interfere with your mental ability.
  • Exercise—it can help increase your alertness, sharpen your mind, and reduce body tension.
  • Eat a healthy and balance breakfast—fruits and veggies reduce stress; avoid caffeine, sugar and junk food.
  • Allow yourself plenty of time to arrive at the test site and bring extra materials (e.g. pencils, pens, paper, erasers).
  • Use abdominal breathing to help reduce anxiety—Place one hand on your abdomen, right beneath your rib cage. Inhale through your nose and feel your abdomen fill like a balloon…count to three on your inhalation and then slowly exhale counting to four, feeling your abdomen contracting with the exhalation. Visualize the tension draining from your body as you breathe out
  • Tense your muscles and hold for 5 seconds, then relax. Repeat 5 times
  • Think of a peaceful, quiet setting (e.g. the beach). Imagine yourself calm and relaxed in that setting.
  • Do a reality check—how important is this exam in the grand scheme of things? Put it in perspective.
  • Use positive affirmation to help keep things in perspective—“I’ve done this before, I can do it again” or “I have all the knowledge I need to get this done.”
  • Avoid classmates who generate anxiety and tend to upset your stability

During the test, take a few minutes to:

  • Review the entire test—Read the directions clearly.
  • Work on the easiest portions of the test first.
  • Pace yourself—don’t rush through the test.
  • If you go blank, skip the question and go on. Come back to it later.
  • Jot down memory aids in the margins (e.g. formulas, facts, key phrases, etc.).
  • Multiple choice questions—read all options first; eliminate the most obvious; rely on your first impression; move on to the next question.
  • Essay questions—underline key terms (e.g. compare, contrast, summarize, discuss); make a short outline to help you organize your thoughts.
  • Ask the instructor if you aren’t sure about something.
  • Take short breaks—tense and relax your muscles throughout your body.
  • Pause—take a few deep breaths and say something affirming.
  • Stay in the present moment—Don’t think about what you should have, could have, would have done. Just take the test.

After the test—Reward yourself!

  • Try not to dwell on your mistakes.
  • Indulge in something relaxing for a while.
  • Overall, be kind to yourself.

1145 King Road, Immaculata, PA. 19345
p. 610-647-4400 or call toll-free: 1-877-42 TODAY
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1145 King Road, Immaculata, PA. 19345 p. 610-647-4400 or call toll-free: 1-877-42 TODAY
Federal Compliance Links | Clery | Employment
Immaculata University | Copyright © All Rights Reserved