Test Panic

Almost without exception, test panic develops for at least one of the following reasons:

  • The attendee hasn’t been to school in years.
  • The attendee generally doesn’t test well on paper.
  • The attendee gets distracted easily, and has a tough time focusing on the questions that are being asked.

Test panic is often elevated when the attendee sees gifted test takers finishing the test within minutes, and the attendee is still working on the first ten or fifteen questions. There’s also a whole range of test panic from basic distraction, where a student occasionally loses focus on a test, all the way to a full-blown fear of tests where a student’s reading comprehension or ability to concentrate are completely suppressed.


Whatever the reason, your Tanning Dynamics instructor is a specialist in replacing test panic with test taking confidence. You may also want to consider the following possible ways to relieve your test panic:

Prior to the Test…

  1. Rest well the night before. Not getting enough rest makes it more difficult to concentrate on the material while it’s being presented. It also makes it more difficult to retain information that was presented.
  2. Eat a decent breakfast, and lunch if testing in the afternoon. This may help calm those nerves, but try to stay away from those kinds of foods that can upset your stomach, or that just don’t digest well, like greasy foods for example.
  3. Avoid sitting with classmates who are also prone to test panic. It may take a little discipline to avoid sitting with friends, co-workers and relatives, but if they are afraid of testing too, they could interfere with your positive attitude and ability to build confidence.
  4. Take notes throughout the day. Especially if your instructor has hinted that something might be on the test. By the way, your instructor will give numerous hints about what will be on the test. Even if you don’t get to use your notes during the test, note-taking helps build retention of the materials, plus you can review them during breaks.
  5. Remember the purpose of class… Or at least one of the purposes, anyway. Besides providing you with knowledge, skills and behaviors that you can use in the performance of your job-related responsibilities, classes are designed to deliver information that you can use to pass the test. We are, in a sense, your test-taking advocates and counselors. We will be there to provide you with the necessary information to get a passing score.

During the Test…

  1. Spread out. If there’s enough room, sit away from your classmates to reduce distraction from their personal noises (shifting, breathing patterns, sniffling and throat clearing, pencil or pen noises as they either tap or come in contact with the test paper, etc.).
  2. Don’t panic if others are writing and you aren’t. Your thinking and concentration is more profitable than their writing.
  3. Answer the easy questions first. This will relax you and help build your confidence because you’ve already achieved some points on the test.
  4. Take your time, if you are testing online. The test is not timed in an online format, so you can take all day if you like. In our years of conducting classroom training, most take the test in about an hour or less. Take more time if you think it will help you pass the test.
  5. Use the process of elimination. While testing with multiple-choice style questions, try eliminating the less-likely possibilities first. If there are four possible answers, scratch out the ones that you’re sure aren’t correct answers. That will help you relax a little because there aren’t as many possibilities. It will also help you to concentrate on just the ones that are more likely to be correct.
  6. Don’t be upset if others finish their tests before you do. Students who leave early don’t always get the highest grades.
  7. Try some emergency first aid for test panic. If you still feel nervous during the test, inhale deeply, close your eyes, hold your breath for a few seconds, than exhale slowly. Repeat as needed. Go ahead, practice doing this now so that it will feel more natural if needed while you’re taking the test.


  1. How to Study in College, Second Edition by Walter Pauk, Houghton-Mifflin Co.
  2. Becoming a Master Student by David B. Ellis, College Survival, Inc. Examination Skills and Techniques. Cliff Notes, Inc., Lincoln, Nebraska, 1968.
  3. How to Take Tests by Jason Millman and Walter Pauk. McGraw-Hill, New York, 1969.
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