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Why you should manage your test anxiety on hard questions


When we need to allocate more time on test day, anxiety tells us the opposite.

Consider this: Hard questions take a longer time to answer than easy ones do. It’s an easy fact to accept; after all, hard questions are generally more complex in their structure or jargon, so our brains have to do more analysis and reasoning to synthesize all the parts of a test question and comprehend what we’re reading.

However, test anxiety complicates that calculation. When we need to allocate more time to a question, we often ironically receive the opposite message from our anxious mind. We feel danger. Allocating more time feels like a threat to our carefully curated pace.


The Anxiety Hijack


So, if you are allotting only an “average” amount of time per question, your anxiety may be telling you to circle something and move on when you still have two answer choices left on hard questions.


In fact, it is very possible you’re shorting your process every time you get to a hard one because anxiety is hijacking your thought process.


However, because of this hijack, you may still be spending an above-average amount of time on that tough question. You are just spending time engaging with those intrusive thoughts instead.


Changing Your Test Behavior


Today, I challenge you to become aware of that testing behavior, and finish every question you start, even when your anxiety tells you it’s not worth it.


Go ahead, double check your work, finish that process of elimination, and give each answer choice your undivided attention.


Try this in an untimed setting first, and then start adapting to this new mindset under timed to pressure.


For assistance making adjustments to your test strategy, reach out to our testing specialists to schedule a strategy session. We’re here to help!



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