Any type of performance creates stress. Athletes, musicians and dancers all have different reactions to “being tested.” The goal of our work with test taking anxiety is to help you learn to master the inner mental game to reduce, eliminate test anxiety to build confidence, self-esteem, trust in your preparation and abilities. How do you do this?
1) To begin, you have to correct negative thinking patterns. Learning Cognitive Behavioral Techniques (CBT) of reframing thought stopping and positive or affirming thought patterns is a great place to start to manage test anxiety. Stopping all negative thinking patterns and transforming your inner dialogue to an optimistic one stops the flow of stress hormones which disrupt your concentration and make you anxious.
2) Learning basic relaxation techniques including deep breathing to instantly change your physiology, progressive muscle relaxation, and pacing your study sessions. Being able to physically calm yourself down and release tension help the body. This lowers heart rate, respiration, blood pressure and creates a feeling of physical relaxation.
3) Developing mental imagery scenarios in your mind of you on test day, at the computer, relaxed, positive, happy and doing great actually builds a circuit in your brain.
This quote may help you see how the combination of these 3 techniques: “If you fire it, you wire it.” Once you fire a thought, positive or negative, you wire it into your neural network. So, creating a “mental bypass” around anxiety with positive thinking, builds this new circuit. An example might be to think of the GMAT an opportunity to show what you know not a threat or something to fear. A musician or an athlete enjoys a concert, competition or performance. The GMAT is your performance. You have rehearsed and prepared, now focus on doing your best by acknowledging your efforts, skills and abilities. Focus on strengths, and then the anxiety will pass or be replaced.
Other TIps:To reduce GMAT Test anxiety, relax, think positively, keep life balance of fun, rest, sleep and remain social connections. If you regulate your study times with good rest periods, focusing on strengths, doing your best (not perfection), practice tests and actual GMAT scores will improve. Taper your study prior to the exam, schedule the test at a comfortable time of day, don’t cram before hand, become familiar with the test center, area and directions, arrive early, focus on the question in front of you, forget about the last question, take a moment or two to breath and stretch, and take the allotted breaks. Remember, you are always in control.