The GED Test: How to Manage Test Anxiety
If the number one fear is public speaking, then the number two
fear is probably test taking. GED students are no different than
most students and adult learners who experience anxiety or
tension at test time. And they have just as much -- if not more
-- at stake, since passing the GED test is so critical to
educational and career opportunities.
Test anxiety is normal, and a healthy amount of test stress can
help test candidates and even improve their score. Stress
launches adrenaline, a brain chemical that can make a test
candidate more alert. But too much test stress inhibits clear
thought, creates fatigue and reduces performance. Months of
studying are ineffective if you freeze or fall apart at the GED
test site. So what's the right balance between a healthy and
productive amount of test stress and the kind of anxiety that
overcomes test candidates?
Test Anxiety Strategies
1. Preparation: Consider the two-part test required for a
drivers license. Most drivers are able to quickly memorize the
rules of the road a day or two before the 20-minute test, and
perform without problem once the testing officer is in the
passenger seat. But what would happen to a driving candidate who
never looked at the driver's manual, or had never been on the
road? Not only would this want-to-be motorist fail to perform,
there'd be high anxiety in the driver's seat.
Preparing for the GED is the best way to reduce test anxiety
and perform well. A good preparation program should include
study and GED practice tests in all areas of the 7.5 hour test
battery, along with marathon study sessions reflective of the
actual test. A good study program increases and improves
knowledge. You can't cram for the GED test like a driving test;
you need to thoroughly learn knowledge, and know how to use it.
Practice tests teach test candidates how to use knowledge,
provide testing experience and are excellent indicators for
measuring skill strengths and weaknesses. Official GED practice
tests also provide the best way to get familiar with the test
structure, question and answer layout, test timing and test
expectations. Then, at test time, the test will be a known
factor instead of an unknown factor. Test familiarity, along
with knowledge ownership, helps candidates have confidence in
their abilities and demonstrate their skills. These are prime
strategies in reducing fear, overcoming test anxiety, and
ensuring a solid test performance.
2. Time Management: Many GED students express concerns about the
timing of the test. Some may be slow test takers; some don't
have a feel for how to pace themselves through the test. And
others get easily distracted by test problems -- they
concentrate on a few problems and score well but find they're
soon out of time and can't complete the whole test. Or, test
candidates may rush through the test because of time concerns --
while they finish test sections early they later learn their
answers were incorrect. But there's no score reward for
finishing first, or finishing fast.
Timing varies for each test, and the full battery includes
science, social studies, reading and writing and the two-part
math test. But on average, allow yourself about 1.25 minutes for
each question during study sessions. Practice test-taking and
problem-solving using this average to develop or improve time
management skills. This strategy will serve to reduce test
anxiety about timing, and help candidates learn the art of
3. Mind & Body Prep: While test candidates ensure that their
abilities and time management skills are sharp, they'll also
want to explore mental and physical ways to reduce test stress
and incorporate stress reducers into their GED study program.
Good nutrition, exercise and healthy rest patterns are
important, since the GED test is a scholarly thinking marathon.
And knowing how to relax at test time is equally important;
learn and practice relaxation techniques during long study
4. Know the Cues: Test anxiety doesn't just happen. It happens
on cue. And for many GED test candidates, anxiety is a habit.
Just like the anxiety response is learned, it can be unlearned
or shifted to a level where anxiety works for the test, instead
of against it. Here are some typical test stress cues and
strategies to manage them:
-- Feeling overwhelmed? Take it step by step. Read directions
carefully. Skip questions which seem overwhelming and move
through another part first. Then return.
-- Nervous and jittery? Test burnout halfway through? Avoid
processed foods, fast foods, along with snacks and beverages
with high-sugar content. Avoid caffeine.
-- Feeling tense? Stiff neck? Eye strain? Change positions.
Stretch. Breathe deeply. Rest your eyes. Clear your mind. Start
-- Blank? Frozen? Fearful? Relax. Skip the question and go on.
You're in control. You're ready ... you're doing your best. Take
the test at your own pace, and the pacing you've learned and
practiced will come back to you, along with the knowledge in
-- Test fatigue? Eat a healthy snack. Use relaxation techniques.
Pause. Clear your mind. Give yourself positive reinforcement.
And visualize your goal.
-- Just a little anxious? Expect it. Surrender to it. Even
welcome it. Know that some anxiety can help you perform, provide
energy, and increase thinking clarity. Acknowledge test stress
as a further reminder of the importance of your goal. Make it
work for you.
For additional GED study tips, test information and free
resources on the GED test, including financial aid and student
support, visit http://www.passGED.com. The website also provides
links to federal agencies and nonprofits that serve GED
students, instructors and workforce development programs. For a
list of official GED testing sites and administrative contacts,