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Calming Pre-Test Nerves: What to do the Night-Before and Day-Of a Big Test

written by: Cheryl Gabbert • edited by: Kellie Hayden • updated: 2/8/2012

A little anxious about a big test coming up? Some students have a hard time calming pre-test jitters no matter how much they've studied. If you're nervous the day before or day of a big test, try some of these tips.

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    No Last Minute Cramming

    Whatever you do, don't ignore that study guide until the night before the test. If you try to cram the night before, you can be sure that you will not do well. You'll be stressed out, and you won't remember much. It's just not an effective strategy, although it is a common one. Instead, give yourself 4-6 weeks to prepare. Go through the study guide studying the material and taking practice tests. The night before the test, simply spend around 30 minutes reflecting on your studies.

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    Get a Good Night Sleep

    You're sure to be a little nervous the night before a big test. That's pretty normal. Still, you need to try to get a full night's rest if possible. Don't cram for a test the night before. Instead, avoid caffeine, and stay at home. I suggest a long walk or some other form of exercise the evening before a test. Exercise helps you sleep better and relieves stress. Relax with a warm bath and a cup of chammomile tea before bed. Don't forget to set your alarm. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get ready and find the exact location of the test site. Pack any information that is needed, such as a test ticket, in your purse or wallet before bed.

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    Breakfast is Not an Option

    Start the morning of the test by getting up on time. Don't hit the snooze button today! A refreshing shower will help you wake up and feel energized. Be sure to eat breakfast. Breakfast is not an option on test day. Even if your stomach feels a little nervous, you need to eat. This will actually help settle your stomach.

    Choose a healthy breakfast. Go for a mixture of protein and carbohydrates. Carbohydrates like toast or a whole grain waffle provide energy, while proteins like sausage or peanut butter help your blood sugar stay stable. An egg sandwich on whole wheat toast with a piece of fruit is a great choice.

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    Keep a Positive Attitude

    Your attitude is everything on test day. If you go into a test believing you will perform poorly, you probably will. If you are prepared for the test, and hopefully you are, you are likely to do well. Don't upset yourself with negative self talk. This will never improve your test scores, so don't go there! Instead, why not replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Tell yourself that you are prepared for the test, and you know you will do a great job. Remind yourself of how intelligent you are, and that you are sure to get a high score. A positive attitude will help quell any nervousness, and it will give you needed confidence on test day.

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    The following resources provide strategies and tips for taking standardized tests.

    1. SAT Test Taking Tips and Techniques
    2. GMAT Test Day Advice
    3. Test Tips By Exam