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How to Stay Calm During an Overwhelming Test

How to Stay Calm During an Overwhelming Test

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No matter what level of education you’re at, knowing how to stay calm during a test is an invaluable skill, because in the majority of fields, your final grade is largely dependent on your test-taking ability. This is a bit of a problem – not everyone responds the same way to tests, and some students are naturally better at tests than others. If your strength is in writing essays or creative expression, you might find yourself freezing during important tests and struggling in a class that you’re actually doing well in. Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to stay calm during a test, even if they aren’t your strength in learning.

Test Anxiety: How it Works

The scientific term for freezing because you feel overwhelmed during a test is test anxiety. A good definition for the term is that test anxiety “is a condition in which people experience extreme distress and anxiety before and in test situations.”1 Generally, if you’re in high school, you are dealing with a constant stream of low-weighting tests; in post-secondary education, the opposite tends to be true, where tests are fewer but heavily weighted. Basically, everyone has to deal with these things, and few students like them.

A young man takes notes from a laptop, with the eSmartr Scorpion Sleeve on his arm.

The problem is that studies have identified that “when students are anxious before and during tests, test anxiety has a significant and effective impact on their performance.”2
You might find yourself overwhelmed during a test, and notice that your memory and critical thinking skills weaken at the worst possible moment. Regardless of your preferences, test-taking in school is nearly unavoidable, and when you freeze up like this, it can be the worst feeling of the day.

How Do You Stay Calm During Tests?

There’s unfortunately no way around it – test anxiety can hold you back, so here’s what you can do about it:

  • Look to your preparation. How do you get ready for an upcoming test? Do you stress eat the night before and have trouble sleeping as a result? Do you spend the last five minutes before the test begins frantically reading your textbooks and notes? If you’re freezing during tests, it’s probably worth taking a look at how you prepare for that test beforehand and trying to adopt healthier habits.
  • Try studying differently. Different methods of learning work differently from person to person – that’s why you might need to know how to stay calm during a test in the first place. Try to adopt different methods of studying and try to start studying earlier. In a 2016 study, researchers found evidence suggesting that flash cards, self-testing, and a good schedule for learning helped many students succeed in their classes and on their tests.3
  • Incorporate mindful practices. Studies show that adopting mindfulness techniques like mindful breathing meditation can significantly reduce test anxiety over time.4 Taking a few minutes out of your day to put aside pressures and remind yourself that you’re doing okay is one of the best things you can do. Instead of cramming before a test, try breathing, and nothing else. It can make an enormous difference.

The eSmartr Difference

Whether your goal is to study differently, study more, practice mindful activities, or try something new altogether, eSmartr can help! Smart compression sleeves are built to enhance your ability to focus on and remember material, without using drugs or electricity to do it. You already have the ability to succeed on anything you put your mind to – the eSmartr sleeve makes it easier to put your mind to it.

The eSmartr sleeve appears on an arm as it takes notes in an open notebook.

Your best ways to stay calm during a test are to take care of yourself leading up to it. Don’t be afraid to change up your study habits, and don’t be afraid to give yourself a break either. Your text anxiety comes from a very real place; staying calm means that you are acknowledging your fears and beginning to move past them. If you need a little extra help, eSmartr is also here for you. You can already handle more than you think you can – smart compression will help you to seal the deal.


1. Schaefer, M., Denke, C., Harke, R., Olk, N., Erkovan, M., & Enge, S. (2019). Open-label placebos reduce test anxiety and improve self-management skills: A randomized-controlled trial. Scientific Reports (Nature Publisher Group), 9, 1-6. doi:
2. Akram, Rizwan & Mahmood, Nasir. (2010). The Relationship between Test Anxiety and Academic Achievement. Bull. Educ. Res.. 32.
3. McAndrew M, Morrow CS, Atiyeh L, Pierre GC. Dental Student Study Strategies: Are Self-Testing and Scheduling Related to Academic Performance? J Dent Educ. 2016 May;80(5):542-52. PMID: 27139205.
Cho, H., Ryu, S., Noh, J., & Lee, J. (2016). The Effectiveness of Daily Mindful Breathing Practices on Test Anxiety of Students. PLoS ONE, 11(10), e0164822.

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