How to Mentally Prepare for Test Day

It’s the day before your big test.  You’ve vigorously read through all the material, flipped over every flashcard, and memorized every fact.  If you prepared adequately, you’ve been doing this for weeks (or months, depending on the test) and not just in the last 24 hours.  Procrastination is not a method of choice for a task this huge – that task being studying for an important exam.  Assuming you did not leave it all to the last minute, the final day before you actually face the exam can be a little strange.  You’ll have those first-day-of-school butterflies and be unsure of how exactly you should go about your day.  Should you cram some more?  Should you completely distract yourself with something fun?  Or should you just nervously wait and listen to classical music all day because it supposedly makes you smarter?  Well, your goal is to ace this test, and half the battle is comprehending the material which you’ve already done – so don’t let that go to waste!  Add a clear mindset and you’ll be ready for test day.  But how do you go about that?    

There are a few buzzwords or typical phrases people around you will say: “Relax, don’t make yourself crazy, no need to get stressed out, it’s not as big a deal as you’re making it out to be.”  Although this is all substantial advice necessary to calm your nerves, the truth is that it’s difficult to relax, you probably are making yourself crazy, stress is inevitable, and it usually is a big deal.  Being in denial of all of this won’t help anything, and it certainly won’t push you in the direction of a calm demeanor.  Accepting these nerves is the first step in taming them, as well as the first step in clearing your mind for test day.  It’s okay to freak out a little and let your energy out – better that than keeping it pent up to rage around inside your head, right?  Acknowledging your fears and concerns will get you closer to overcoming them.

Once you’ve gotten your emotions out of the way, incorporate a good balance of both reviewing test material and relaxing into your day.  No need to choose between one or the other; simply combine them in a healthy way.  Instead of going through every bit of studying all over again, just choose the areas that you most frequently had issues with and do whatever it takes to ingrain them into your mind.  Bring the material around with you wherever you go throughout the day so you can take a look sporadically, rather than forcing yourself to take another crash course for six straight hours.  As for where you’ll be going and what you’ll be doing, that is up to you and whatever activity puts you in a relaxed and content mood.  This isn’t the day to go riding rollercoasters or hitting up parties, but tanning at the pool or hanging out at the coffee shop.  Do something that allows you to be comfortable, but still continue to soak everything up.  Anything too stimulating will take your mind off the test material too much, yet being in an environment that doesn’t comfort you at all will ensure your nerves get the best of you, so finding the perfect activity that balances these factors out is crucial.

Lastly, get a great night’s sleep and review significant material right before you go to bed.  Typically, the things you think about just before falling asleep tend to resonate with you more than anything else when you wake up the next day.  Especially if your test is early in the morning, this is a wonderful thing to do because it allows you to begin the day with the knowledge firmly placed in your brain, not leading you to panic about retaining it.  Whether you are about to take an Algebra test, the SAT, or a college Philosophy final, these tips are sure to help you mold your mindset in the way you need.  Embrace the feelings you are having and make of them what you want them to be.