It’s normal to feel stressed or anxious about different things that come up in our lives, and having these feelings surrounding tests is nothing to ignore. No matter if you are in grade school, college, or getting your doctorate, test anxiety can affect anyone. Our education can hold a lot of weight, and knowing that something is measuring how much you know is a pretty daunting idea. Wherever you are in your education, know that you’re not alone! Here I’ve compiled some tips and steps to help you cope with test anxiety. You’ve got this!
Before The Test
Tip One: Study
Make a study plan. Prepare and write down your plan of attack. How much time will you spend each day studying? What topic will you cover on which day? Be sure to spread the studying out over time to allow yourself to soak up the information while you are feeling most relaxed.
Tip Two” Relax
Find a way to relax and take your mind off the upcoming test the night before. Maybe a hot bath, reading a book you enjoy, or simply going to sleep early. Taking care of yourself and your mind right before the test will help you be in a positive state of mind and ready to take on the world!
Tip Three: Eat Right
Eat a meal before. Don’t let your test anxiety stop you from keeping your body fueled and hydrated. Drink water, coffee, or tea to help you feel awake and ready to go. Eat a meal that has a good balance of protein, fiber, and fat to keep you full.
Tip Four: Breathe
Before you go in, take a deep breath. Remind yourself that you’ve prepared for this and that you took care of your body and mind to make sure you are ready to do your best work possible. Take one last look at the information if that helps you, but you know yourself best. Avoid this if you think it will make you feel more stressed or anxious.
During The Test
Tip One: Stay Positive
As soon as you get your test, take a few deep breaths. Affirm yourself with positive self-assurances such as “I can do this,” “I have prepared for this,” and reminding yourself that your worth does not come from your performance. Close your eyes and take another breath before you open the test.
Tip Two: Look It Over
Before you start answering, flip through and read the question types and understand what lies ahead. This way, nothing on the test will surprise you, and it will help you to realize that you will tackle it one question at a time. Read through the directions, read through all answer choices on each question, and if it is open-ended, take your time. You are smart, and you are capable!
Tip Three: Read It Through
Once you have finished the test, read through it once or twice. Be sure that you answered each question and check your answers again to be sure that you feel confident. Hand in your test with confidence knowing that you did your best.
After The Test
Tip One: It’s Out Of Your Control
First off, you’re done! It’s important to recognize that you’ve completed the test and that at this point it is out of your hands—it is no longer something you can control.
Tip Two: Stay Distracted
Distract yourself if necessary. If you can’t stop thinking about how you might have done, or still feel anxious, distract yourself with activities such as spending time with friends, exercising, or watching your favorite TV show. Try to keep your mind off the test and focused on what lies ahead.
Tip Three: Reflect
Once you feel completely at ease, try looking back and assessing how it all went. Ask yourself, “Is there anything you can do next time to help yourself feel more prepared?” “Were there any tools that helped you, in particular, to retain information or feel more confident about it?” You can also prepare for the next test by coming up with a new study plan based on what worked or did not work before.
Thanks for reading!I hope this helped you as you tackle your next big test. Don’t let your test anxiety win! Good luck, and you’ve got this!
This post was written in collaboration with Caroline Pitarque Johnson. Collaborative writing means that while I have contributed to this post and edited its content and formatting, I am not its original author. By posting this content on my blog, I receive financial compensation. Want to guest post for Jihi Elephant? Learn more here.
The fact you’re reading this post suggests you’re struggling to get your head around college organization. Fear not. A shocking number of students feel as though they could drown under that pressure. And, it’s no surprise when you have teachers telling you that how well you do here will dictate your life. Talk about stress! Read on for more on our 3-layered study plan!
3-Layered Study Plan
One of the main things we struggle with as students are finding the time to study. Sadly, that’s about the most critical part of your college career. Even if you attend all the lectures and their extras, not making time to study could see you struggling to survive your first year of college.
But, that knowledge may leave you asking, how can you find the time? If you’re already struggling (and most students are), how can you create space for even more work? It might seem like an impossible task, but trust us; it isn’t. In truth, all you need to do to get on top here is a bullet journal and a three-layered study plan like this one.
Layer 1: The Time You Don’t Have
The blank page is the most daunting thing about starting a bullet journal. How do you even begin to section your life into a workable plan? Well, jotting down the times when you know you’re busy could be a good start. This will help you develop at least some idea of your timetable, and that’s most important of all. So, step one is to create pages which outline everything from your class times, any educational trips you have in the pipeline, and even planned social occasions. After all, meeting up with friends is also essential if you want to keep your sanity. Use a red pen for these areas to show that they’re no-go’s. You won’t need to worry about those hours because they’re taken and accounted for.
Layer 2: The Time You Could Have
Next, move onto the time you could use for study. By this, we meantime which isn’t strictly free but could still be put to good use. You know the type of stuff; lunch hours, commute times. These are periods of your day which are taken, but only loosely. Fill these in yellow. Then, you can leave aside quick-fire study tasks for occasions like these. If you have an activity which will only take half an hour, set it aside and don’t pick it up until there’s a yellow square on your study horizon.
The hard part is out of the way. You’ve separated the time you spend doing stuff in your day. Now, grab a green pen and get into the body of your study plan. If there are white squares left on this journal page, consider using them for your studies. Of course, we all need downtime. Make sure to leave yourself at least one blank space a day. But, the rest of your schedule should be used to get your studying done!
This post was written in collaboration. Collaborative writing means that while I have contributed to this post and edited its content and formatting, I am not its original author. By posting this content on my blog, I receive financial compensation. Want to guest post for Jihi Elephant? Learn more here.
Note-taking is by far the most difficult part of reading for college students. Note-taking is tedious, boring, doubles the time it takes for you to read a chapter, and you generally cannot understand them later. We all know how reading can benefit us. Below are some ways to efficiently and effectively take notes. These strategies will make studying your notes easier and will keep your notes organized.
This post may contain affiliate links
The first note-taking strategy is to skim. I mean two things when I say skim. The first is that I recommend an extremely brief skim of each section before you read them. During this initial skim, take mental note of any bolded or italicized words. These are the words you are going to want to pay particular attention to when you’re reading.
Second, by skim I mean skim instead of in-depth reading. The more important bits of the reading is the beginning and end—the begging and end of the chapter, the sections, and each paragraph. That doesn’t mean ignore the middle bits. Just don’t spend all your time focusing on the middle of each paragraph.
How is skimming a note-taking strategy you might ask? Well when you are spending less time reading every single word, you have more concise, accurate, and organized notes!
Headings are very important when it comes to note-taking. Headings not only give you a brief idea of what you are about to read, but they can be used to organize your notes based on content. You might try organizing your notes based on headings or a general idea the text focuses on in the section following each heading.
An outline is an easy way to organize your notes as you go. This is particularly easy because most textbooks are organized with headings that give you an outline before you’ve even started taking notes. If you prefer not to outline your notes based on the headings. Create a brief outline when doing the initial scan that makes sense to you.
I cannot stress enough about the importance of color coordination in note-taking. Even just alternating colors when you start a new idea can help you to navigate your notes quicker when your studying. Planning Pineapple mentions choosing 5 colors to organize your notes. A different color for headings, subheadings, vocabulary, main notes, and big points. This is an amazing idea that I utilize in my own note-taking.
If you don’t like worrying about colors while you are taking notes, trying highlighting after the fact instead!
Splitting your Page
Another highly recommended way to take your notes is to split the page. Draw a line or fold your page about two inches from the left side. That left column should include cues and questions. The right column is where your notes will go. Then, about two inches from the bottom of the page (or even just at the end of each section), summarize your notes. This strategy is the best when it comes to taking in-class notes, but it can also be used effectively when you are reading your text!
Now that you have 5 more note-taking tools under your belt, you are sure to succeed! Which strategy is your favorite? Let us know if the comments!
As a college student, it is essential to pack our bags strategically because you have to carry it around with you all day. Without an alternate place to store all of your things (like lockers for high schoolers), you need to maximize the space in your backpack while still having everything you need for class and the day as a whole. Below I talk about my backpack essentials!
Naturally, for this post to make any sense you’re going to need a backpack or another larger bag of your preference. I have a bad neck and back, so I opt to use a backpack with good support to lessen my physical discomfort. I also find it to be essential that your bag of choice has many pockets to aid in the organization of all of my things.
My current backpack has lost its support and needs to be replaced, however, I cannot seem to find one with pockets that I like within a decent price range. It has two large compartments, a medium compartment with smaller zipper pouches in it, a small front compartment and two water bottle compartments on the sides. I utilize each of these sections.
Everyone is different, so when choosing a bag, make sure it suits your needs!
Textbooks and Binders
In many cases, the largest contents of a backpack are the textbooks, notebooks, folders, and binders. I generally take one to two textbooks at one time because of their weight and how it affects my neck. If you can fit and can carry more than two and you’d like to, go for it!
In addition to the textbooks required for my classes, I take the binder that is associated with the class I will be attending for the day. I use binders instead of notebooks and folders for multiple reasons. The first reason is that I have hundreds and hundreds of pages of loose-leaf notebook paper and absolutely no notebooks. So, having a binder gives me a place to keep the paper.
The second reason I use binders instead of folders is that the binder organizes everything I will need for the class including the loose-leaf paper, handouts, a folder for the handouts, folder compartments for projects that need to be turned in, and a clear area to put the syllabus or course schedule on the front. This way I am not digging through a cluttered notebook to see what is due next. The downfall of using binders are the bulk. Again, use what works best for you!
Planner / Scheduler
My next backpack essential is potentially my favorite part—my planner. Personally, I use a bullet journal (check out my bullet journal here}}). I keep my journal in a pouch to protect it from spills and page damage, though this is not necessary.
I HIGHLY recommend that you get an agenda or planner if you don’t already have one. It is essential to keep all your due dates, classes, appointments, and other events organized in one place. Plus, there are a million different types of planners so you are bound to find one that you really like.
This next backpack essential isn’t really essential but for some people, it is immensely useful to have on you. I keep my laptop on me because I work on campus and use it at work. However, it is also extremely helpful in between work and class when I do not have time to go all the way across campus to go to the library, or if there are no computers available in the student lounge in my building. I am able to pull out my laptop and work on homework or even complete blog work in my free time instead of sitting around playing on my phone. If you choose to carry your laptop around you need to be mindful that it takes up a lot of space, requires protection, and will probably need you to have a messy mop of cords in your bag too.
You can’t be expected to take notes in class without writing utensils, so these are a MUST. I keep my pens, pencils, and highlighters in a zipper compartment in my medium zipper section, though you can also opt to keep them in a pencil case or makeup bag. I always keep a plethora of colors on my person because I like to take notes in color, but this is not something that you need to have, a few black pens and a pencil are good enough.
Water Bottle & Snacks
One of the most important parts of the college student’s backpack is a water bottle. By keeping a water bottle on you, you are more likely to stay hydrated without having to use public water fountains. Water is good for you, so don’t forget to bring your water bottler!
Regardless of how long you plan to be on campus, you will need snacks. Snacks are an awesome way to remain focused, refuel energy, and if you’re on campus all day—you will need to eat. I am generally on campus all day because of work and class, so I not only pack a lunch but also keep granola bars and various chips or crackers in my backpack. My small pouch of my backpack is designated for snacks.
It’s not a necessity in some places, but I always keep my umbrella in my second water bottle pouch in case of rain. Where I am from random bouts of rain are not uncommon, and I prefer not to have to run to my car with my bag over my head.
If you have any interest in having an ID on you, student card, money card, cash or anything else you probably keep your wallet on you. This is easy to add to your backpack because it probably does not take up much space.
The final backpack essential is charging cords! This might not be a necessity for you, but if you have your laptop or phone on you, you probably do not want it to die in the middle of the day. I keep my cords in the pouch with my snacks for ease of access.
There you go! Those are my backpack essentials, what do you keep in your school bag??
I have been there…heck, I am still there! College is hard! The constant, never-ending piles of homework and assigned readings. It’s nearly impossible not to get behind! Plus, you’re always feeling sleep deprived and exhausted from pulling those all-nighters. College is hard, but it can be made super easy by following these Tips to Surviving College!
Get Enough Sleep
Believe it or not, all-nighters aren’t all that helpful. When you’re sleep deprived your brain functioning decreases significantly and your metabolism slows! This is especially important during finals, everyone is feeling the need to stay up all night studying. But If you begin studying enough in advance (keep reading to learn more about this), you will be able to get enough sleep to be fully functioning come test-day! Nothing is worse on test day than being sleep-deprived.
“Sleep is essential for optimal learning and memory function.” -Harvard.edu
I know, I know, you’re poor, I was there. I understand you must eat on a teeny-tiny budget. Just make sure you’re eating! Don’t skip any of those key meals. Be sure to get a good breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Prepare a meal that you can eat on the go the night before if you know the next day is going to be busy. You can also save money on meals with meal planning and coupons.
“Healthy eating has been linked to higher grades, better memory, more alertness, faster information processing…” Livestrong.com
Avoiding meals or eating primarily junk foods can significantly hurt your learning and your mood. So make sure you are eating and eating well!
Avoid Binge Drinking
The typical “college experience” includes partying, sure, go for it (YOLO, right?). NO. Drinking not only drains your bank accounts but it leads to poor decisions that can and will affect your schooling! I’m not saying you can’t go out and have some drinks with your friends every now and then. But, if you are doing it all the time your school work will suffer, your health will suffer, and you’re spending a lot of money on alcohol that you could be spending on REAL FOOD.
So, this goes with healthy eating and the financial topics I talk about below. Partying all the time does you no good if you are at school to get a degree (and if you don’t wish to gain a ton of weight, yeah, alcohol can cause weight gain). If you’re partying all the time, sleep deprived, and inevitably stressed from being poor and far behind on your work, obviously, your body isn’t going to be in very good shape. And if your body isn’t doing well, neither are you. Take care of yourself.
Try to avoid binge drinking, it’s not good for your college survival.
Having a social life is important, if you’re isolating then you are bound to burn out faster. Resilience. Resilience refers to a person’s ability to bounce back from traumatic or difficult situations. One way to help build your resilience is to have friends. I’m not saying you must go out and find a ton of friends (you can if you’d like). But really all you need is a couple close friends, people to count on and who count on you. Having a place to belong is super important!
Be careful, if you’re only socializing and you never study, your grades will suffer.
Build your resilience to difficult situations, make a friend. #Friendship
I cannot stress enough the importance of time management! Without time management, you are more likely to forget about assignments and be generally stressed out and behind! Having good time management can help you to not only feel better but to raise your grades as well! Track your time for a week and see where you are spending your time!
“Time=Life; therefore, waste your time and waste your life, or master your time and master your life.” Alan Lakein
Get a Planner
Using a planner is a great way to practice time management! Use a planner to track your assignments, events, set aside study time, track your meals and water intake, track your habits, and be prepared for upcoming tests and projects! You can also track group assignment meetings, club meetings, and anything else you are involved in! I highly suggest creating a Bullet Journal, check out these printable planning pagesandhomework trackers to help you out!
As soon as your textbook lists become available, email your professor to make sure those are the required texts, then get them! Coming to the first few weeks of classes unprepared will set you back! No one likes playing catch up, you’ll never feel like you are ahead of the game.
Once you’ve bought them track them! Keep a spreadsheet detailing the book’s information so that, come to the end of the semester, you will know which ones are rentals and when they are due. Plus, if a book doesn’t show up, you will have all the information you need handy to get a free replacement!
I absolutely love this website and I recommend it to everyone I know who is searching for textbooks. This website automatically compares pricing on textbooks all over the internet to help you save money. This website saved me hundreds! (Not Sponsored)
Once you’ve typed your ISBN number or a keyword or phrase into the search bar, you get to choose how you want the book (Rental, New, Used, etc.). Then it’ll lay out all the sites you can buy the book from and the price! How easy is that??
Do Your Homework
Once you’ve got your time management all settled, you have your books and your assignments all figured out, you have no excuse for not doing your homework. Doing your assignments is literally the easiest way to ensure a passing grade. You can’t fail if you do everything that is asked of you! Chances are, you will do pretty well!
Simple as that!
You don’t have time to read every single reading assignment in detail, I get it. So instead, learn how to skim. This can take practice, but I am sure you’re already a pro.
Always refer to the discussion questions and key learning points presented at either the end or the beginning of the chapter. These will give you an idea of what you are about to read and also give you information to focus your attention on. If your professor gives you a set of discussion questions or an assignment, thoroughly read the instructions and questions before delving into the chapter. Again, this sets you up to read the information with a goal.
Pay close attention to the beginning and ending of every paragraph, as well as anything underlined, bolded, italicized or in a bubble on the page.
And Lastly, TAKE NOTES! Taking notes while you are reading is a sure-fire way to improve your learning. Simply writing down the section titles and subtitles, along with a few key points, definitions, or some of your thoughts will increase your attention to your reading. This, in turn, helps you to memorize the information for the test later!
Do Your Work at the College Library
Sometimes the most distracting place to do homework is at home… Whether you live in the dorms, an apartment, or with your parents, you are more likely to watch Netflix or spend countless hours on your phone when you are at home. Doing your homework in the library lessens the chance you will be distracted and you will get a lot more done in a shorter period of time.
If you don’t have access to a library try designating a spot in your house for work only. In this spot, you cannot watch TV, sleep, or lounge. Having an area that is only for school will help you to sit down with the mindset that you are working, and help to lessen distractions.
Start Studying Early
You don’t need an all-nighter to be prepared for a test if you’ve already been studying! Doing a little bit of reading or note card review every day starting at least a week in advance could be enough to prepare you for the test!
Study while you are waiting in line at the grocery store or while in the waiting room at the doctors. Doing this instead of browsing Facebook will increase your chances of passing!
Being prepared for a test feels way better than cramming the night before, promise!
Get a Study Buddy…. Or Two!
Studying with other people is so great for learning because teaching is a really great way to reinforce memorization. Plus, if you are stuck, maybe your buddy can help!
Not only are study buddies great study resources, but they keep you accountable. Accountability is huge. If you have no way of holding yourself accountable for doing your work, why would you do it? Now maybe your parents or the teachers keep you accountable. Nevertheless, it’s nice to have someone there to work out the difficult problems with. Plus, maybe you’ll make a friend while you’re at it!
Take Advantage of College Writing Centers and Tutors
Your school provides resources such as a writing center and tutoring services for a reason, USE THEM! There is nothing to be ashamed of, everyone needs a little help sometimes.
If you are struggling with one of your classes, get a tutor. A tutor is someone who has been in the class or knows the subject particularly well. Why wouldn’t you want the help of an expert?
Writing centers are also amazing resources. Every student at one point has to write a paper or two, it’s inevitable so you might as well accept your fate now. No matter how skilled you are at writing papers it is always smart to have someone (or multiple someones) read your paper for errors, structure, flow, etc. The people in the writing center happen to be particularly knowledgeable in writing. They can catch those pesky mistakes you keep reading over, and the ones you don’t know your making. Make an appointment and have them read it! What can it hurt?
“Asking for help doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it means you’re smart enough to recognize when you’re struggling.” Elizabeth Ghekiere
As I mentioned before, writing things down helps you to learn and memorize information. Even if you have access to the notes online, taking your own notes is a form of studying. So, by taking notes you are becoming better prepared for the test.
Taking notes in class is huge because many professors add questions to the test that are based on lectures instead of just the reading, assignments, or their provided notes. Forcing yourself to take notes also forces you to pay attention and you are less likely to wonder, “Did we actually learn this” when it comes to test-day! There were so many times in my undergrad, where I would hear other students complaining that the teacher didn’t teach the information that was on the test. However, I would look at my notes and see clearly that it was a topic of discussion. Paying attention and taking notes helps!
If you are stuck or confused ask questions! Raise your hand in class, approach the professor after class or during office hours, ask the writing center, ask a tutor, ask a classmate. If you don’t know something, ASK, don’t leave yourself hanging.
So often I find myself confused or wondering something but am afraid to raise my hand and be embarrassed. This is normal. However, after forcing myself to ask questions I found that I felt more confident in both myself and my work! Not only did I feel better, but I was able to build really helpful relationships with professors and peers. These connections are incredibly useful in the future when you have more questions, or in the job-world when you need a recommendation!
“Don’t be afraid to ask a question, it might lead to a mutually prosperous relationship.” Elizabeth Ghekiere
Start Paying on Your Loans
I know, I know, you’ve been trying to avoid your loans, not pay on them early! But trust me, you will be saving your own butt if you start NOW! Even if you just try to keep up with the interest, you’ll thank yourself after you graduate! I started paying on my loans my freshman year and was able to pay off two loans completely before I graduated, leaving another two with only a couple hundred left. Crazy right!? I didn’t even make monthly payments. Imagine the damage you could do with monthly payments! Whenever you have extra money, throw it at your loans, you won’t regret it.
Avoid Credit Card Offers
Those pesky credit card offers will be the death of you. They sound intriguing now, and they try to tell you it’s the only way to accrue credit. But they are lying. I haven’t used a single credit card and I have great credit!
Credit cards are tempting because you’re poor in college, but unless you are able to pay them off RIGHT AWAY, you will only build yourself into a deep debt-hole. The deeper the hole, the harder it will be to get out of, and the longer it will take to get financially free.
Take All Those Free Pens
You just never know when you or a friend will need a pen, might as well take one…or three!
I hope these tips and tricks which helped me survive my undergrad are helpful for you! Enjoy what you’re reading? Sign up for a ton of FREE stuff HERE.
Meet Elizabeth! Elizabeth is the creator and writer here at Elizabeth Journals. In addition to creating for ElizabethJournals, she is a full-time graduate student studying clinical mental health counseling. She started Jihi Elephant to share her experiences, spread organizational tips, and promote positive living. Elizabeth is an avid bullet journalist, dabbling artist, and houseplant fanatic.
You can also read more about the origins of Jihi Elephant and its creator here.
ElizabethJournals is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.
ElizabethJournals is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.