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Mindfulness Exercises To Reduce Test Anxiety Before an Exam

We all know what it’s like to take tests. 

And if you’re anything like me, they probably stress you out. 

Whether it be the MCAT, the SAT, or even a drivers test, they are an often anxiety-inducing and unavoidable part of life for those looking to solidify their education or career. 

Did you know that there is increasing evidence of mindfulness practices being an effective way to ease testing anxiety and even heighten performance levels. 

One study, for example, found that mindfulness breathing may actually be more effective than cognitive reappraisal for test taking anxiety. 

If you have a test coming up, no matter the type, there are a few great exercises you can use to ease your anxiety and feel more confident going into the exam. 

We’ve compiled a few in this blog post to get you started.

Mindful Ways To Ease Test Anxiety


Meditation is one of my personal favorite ways to calm my nerves before, well, anything. 

It’s a great way to shift your focus and give yourself a break from whatever is stressing you out. 

And meditation does not have to be the structured, 30 minutes of silence that you might be picturing in your head right now. 

Meditation looks different to anyone and the important part is that you’re doing what feels right for you. 

If you’re new to the practice, there are a lot of great guided meditations available online, and even some that are specific to test anxiety. 

Consistent Sleep 

While you might think staying up all night studying is going to help, it’s actually extremely difficult to retain information on a tired, overworked mind.

Thus, implementing a consistent sleep schedule during your study weeks is one of the most powerful ways to ease testing anxiety and help you to feel more prepared. 

Try giving yourself a bedtime and wake up time during the weeks leading up to your exam. Make sure you’re choosing reasonable times that provide for at least a full 8 hours of sleep. 

This will not only allow you to feel better rested for the studying itself, but will feel prepared and energized the day of the test as well. 

Conscious breathing 

Conscious breathing is a great way to calm nerves and realign focus when heading into stressful events like standardized testing. 

If you’ve got an exam in a few hours, try working through the following 4-7-8 breathing exercise to ease your mind

To begin, start by breathing in fully through your nose for a count of 4 seconds. 

Then, hold the air in your lungs for a full 7 seconds, before exhaling through your mouth for a count of 8. 

Repeat this cycle 3 – 10 times or until you start to notice your worries fading away with each inhale and exhale. 

You may wish to use this exercise during the exam as well to reset your focus. 


Similar to compliments, affirmations are words or phrases used to uplift a person or shift their mindset to a more positive place. 

When it comes to testing, affirmations are one way to help yourself feel more confident, and less nervous before stepping into the exam room. 

The major key to affirmations, however, is consistency. Choose one of the following phrases and find a few moments throughout the day to repeat it to yourself out loud, in your head, or written on paper. 

  • “I have prepared well for my test and nothing will surprise me.” 
  • “I am so great at taking tests.” 
  • “I will do my best on this test and be happy with whatever score I get.” 
  • “I’ve prepared as much as I can for this test and I am confident I’m going to pass.” 
  • “I am intelligent and well-prepared for this exam.” 

Make sure you are doing this for at least a few days prior to your exam to give yourself, and the universe, enough time to listen.

Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to test anxiety. So next time your stressed about any upcoming exam, try one of all of these tips to see what works best for you.

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