Test anxiety is real. When the stakes are high, it can be terrifying not to do well on an exam. I had a horrible test anxiety in nursing school. Even after talking to the school and getting testing accommodations, including longer testing times and a quiet space to take the exams, it was still hard.
Taking an exam is a skill, and it’s something you’ll have to work at. Like like Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither was great test-taking skills. Take it from me, and there are a few things you should never do the night before an exam:
- Cram for the exam
You may be able to get away with it once or twice, but this tactic will not pay off in the long run. I had to plan out my weeks to study small portions of the exam to avoid cramming. My favorite this to do was to relisten to lectures on my way to school. It helped me refresh my brain and remember the material. Only briefly review your exam material the day before. If you do more than that, there is an excellent chance you’ll physic yourself out and increase your anxiety.
- Change your routine
Stick to your regularly scheduled program. Don’t go out late the night before an exam or rearrange your entire house. You and your roommates, boyfriend, or spouse will not be happy when they can’t find what they’re looking for, and you fail the exam. Stick to your routine. If you work, workout, or eat out normally, do it.
- Get into Unnecessary Conflict with others
There are a few people I avoided calling or talking to a few days before an exam. I avoided certain family members, friends, or my manager, for example. It wasn’t worth the risk of arguing with them and being distracted during my exam. It wasn’t that I didn’t like them; I needed to focus on the exam.
The day before the exam, I spent with my kids, which was normal for me. We’d go to the park, play with their friends or stay at home and play trains. In the afternoon, I’d review my notes for about an hour, and that was it. I listen to my favorite music on my way to class and try to get there early to pray or meditate before the exam. All those healthy habits lowered my stress level and helped me concentrate.
- Take a pregnancy test.
Should be enough said, but it’s not. I took a pregnancy test before the NCLEX. I was so excited to be pregnant that I put additional stress on myself to pass the exam. I looked at the next nine months of my life and wanted to be working as soon as possible. I went down the rabbit hole, stressed myself out, and failed in 75 questions.
After waiting to retest, and taking some much needed time to destress, I passed the exam in 75 questions. Passing NCLEX for me wasn’t about content. It was about testing skills. I took my time, got a log of sleep the night before, laid off the caffeine, and did my best.