8 Great Tips for Overcoming Test Anxiety as a Nursing Student


Examinations never fail to bring test anxiety to a lot of nursing students.  Unlike students studying for other professions, Nursing is an educational field that requires a mind-boggling amount of memorization and study.  This makes test-taking for most nursing students a big source of anxiety.

A test may not define your full competence as a nurse, but it will surely gauge your skills and knowledge in becoming one. To help you overcome test anxiety, here are some great tips you can follow:

1. Establish a Review Schedule

review schedule

Establishing a review schedule prior to your exam day helps you prepare in two ways. First, a review schedule will help you balance your time between exam preparation and your other daily activities.   Second, it will help you map out which subjects you need to devote more time to.

When planning your review schedule, it is best to start ahead of time and then allot 2 to 4 hours of study time.  This is better than cramming on the last few days before the exam and getting stressed and burned out in the process.

Also, choose a time of day wherein your attention is at its sharpest.  Avoid hours where you are prone to get drowsy or sleepy, as you might just set yourself up for failure if you choose an inopportune time to study.

Read Also: How to Pass the NCLEX-RN on the First Try

2. Never Forsake Your Sleep

getting enough sleep

No matter how busy you are in preparing for your upcoming exam, never forsake your sleep. As much as possible, complete eight hours of sleep per day.  This tip will help your mind reboot and recondition itself for the next day’s review.

3. Practice Deep Breathing Exercises

meditation for anxiety

Whenever you start feeling frazzled, just practice deep breathing exercises or a spot of meditation.

To do this, simply find a comfortable position, close your eyes, and inhale and exhale deeply for ten seconds.  Calm your chaotic thoughts by imagining a scene that brings you peace and calm.  This vision can perhaps be a sensation of you floating tranquilly in a warm tropical sea, or lying down in warm sand.

Practicing deep breathing exercises is very beneficial as it increases blood flow in your body thus bringing more oxygen to your brain.  Also, deep breathing exercises help clear your mind and lower your stress levels.

4. Visualize Success

law of attraction

The Law of Attraction states that we attract whatever we think about the most. So, if you think of elephants all day, you will somehow attract elephants to you. This works the same way on failure and success.

First thing in the morning and before you sleep, imagine yourself studying well for your test, and acing your test.  By visualizing, you can manifest the reality you want.

If you feel negative thoughts starting to impinge, stop, and go about your daily activities.

5. Don’t Skip Meals and Drink Plenty of Water

how to reduce test anxiety

Your brain needs nourishment to function efficiently so always remember to eat your meals and drink plenty of water. Avoid too much sugar as it can make your blood sugar spike uncontrollably. Avoid caffeinated drinks as well since they can cause more anxiety attacks.

Getting proper nourishment is essential in keeping your body and mind in full working condition.

Read Also: Best Diet for Nurses: 8 Nutrition Tips for a Healthier You

6. Exercise!

exercise to reduce stress

Exercising before studying has been known to improve concentration and memory. As you exercise, blood circulation improves in your body restulting in  a greater supply of oxygen to your brain.

Exercising also releases tension and stress. Try regular aerobic exercises like jogging, stair-climbing or swimming.

If you don’t have resources for more complex exercise activities, fire up your Internet-connected computer and dance to your favorite JustDance tunes on YouTube.  It’s free, quick, and fun!

Read Also: 10 Best Exercise Routines to Make You a Better Nurse

7. Avoid Last Minute Studying

how to relieve test anxiety

Come exam day, leave your notes at home. Avoid last minute studying.  It will just build test anxiety and make you lose focus. If you compare what you’ve studied with your fellow students on the day of the exam, it might also result in you doubting your level of preparedness.

Instead, simply relax, calm your mind, and focus on doing your best on the exam.

8. Don’t Check Your Answers

overcoming test anxiety

Did you know that second-guessing usually leaves incorrect answers?  Now that you know, don’t torture yourself further by re-checking your answers.  (Throughout the test though, make sure you are answering the correct test numbers to avoid ruining your whole exam.)

The same thing applies after passing your paper.  Don’t be tempted to consult your notes and books to check if you got the answers right.  Instead, give yourself a pat on the back for all the effort you put in.  Later, when you get your test results and you feel there is room for improvement, you can go over your review techniques and make necessary adjustments.

how to overcome test anxiety

Getting stressed over an exam is normal but don’t let it bring your spirit down. Conquer test anxiety with these tips and build-up your confidence in taking exams!


About the Author: Je Abarra is a nurse by profession and a freelance writer by passion. She is working as a staff nurse in the pediatric ward of a private city hospital for more than two years. During her free time, she usually writes about her fascinations in health and nursing. She loves to provide tips and fun facts about nursing and healthy living.