AP testing tips for students with anxiety

Caitlin McKeand, Co-Editor in Chief

For those of us who suffer from anxiety and panic, AP exam week is a bundle of just about everything we don’t want. We all have certain things that will cause grievance, whether it’s the silent room, the possibility of your stomach making whale noises, failing, or just test taking in general, I can tell you that you aren’t alone.

While anxiety is something that doesn’t go away, there are ways to deal with it and create a better testing experience.

  1. Failing and anxiety- If something that gives you anxiety is failing, remember to study! By feeling prepared, it will allow your brain to recognize that you aren’t walking into the test unprepared from having studied nothing. When coming across questions where you aren’t sure what the answer is, you are allowed to skip the question or make a guess and move on, don’t sit there and antagonize yourself for not knowing. It is ok to not know everything. You must know that it is ok to feel anxious about failing or making a bad grade, but remember to take a deep breath and continue onward.
  2. Give yourself control- When taking a test, something that has always caused me anxiety was the idea that I couldn’t leave the testing room. In my mind I was stuck there against my will until time was called. This is not the case. If you begin to feel trapped and your heart begins speeding up, ask to go to the restroom. Feel the water on your hands and the breath in your lungs and remember that you are allowed to leave and take a break whenever you feel that you need to. You are not trapped and you can leave.
  3. Personal space- If the idea of being in a silent room with all these other kids makes you uncomfortable, block them out as best as possible. For those of you with long hair, I will always lower my head so that my hair shields my face from view, blocking out the rest of the room as well as muffling noise. If you don’t have long hair, wear something like a sweatshirt and bring the hood around your face for the same effect. If possible, you can try to ask for a window seat, so it will seem like you are closer to the outside.
  4. Uncontrollable situations- Everyone’s stomachs make horrible dying whale noises and it is ok. It’s entirely natural (not that knowing that stops anxiety) and people will not care I guarantee you this. As someone who gets anxiety from this, I can tell you it is very hard to overcome a fear of something everyone can hear. You may not even be hungry, often anxiety can cause these noises. Just know that you just need to let it be and understand you can’t control everything. It also helps if other people’s stomachs make the noises first.

Overcoming anxiety and test panic is no easy process and it will take more time than there is until AP exams, but keep in mind that it is something that can be dealt with. Remember that you are in charge (always), there will be some things out of your control but you are not the only one feeling the way you are, it’s ok to not know everything and I believe in you, one anxiety filled bubble to another.