5 Methods to Combat Test Anxiety when taking the SAT/ACT

January 13, 2023


5 Methods to Combat Test Anxiety when taking the SAT/ACT

When you’re a student, there’s nothing more important than doing well to get good scores on your SAT and ACT tests. It’s important to you because you need those scores to help get you into college. Still, most students forget that it’s only one application requirement. That’s why many students experience great stress and anxiety in the days or weeks leading up to the SATs or ACTs. Here are five ways to reduce your test anxiety – but let’s first understand what it is.

Heard of Test Anxiety?

Think of this: it’s just a few days before the test, and you know you’ve studied well, practiced problems, and solved many sample papers. You are as prepared as possible but feel jittery, restless, and even afraid. You may also feel like you’re about to forget everything you’ve studied because you keep thinking, ‘what if I do wrong?’.

 If you recognize this feeling, don’t worry. It’s natural to feel nervous, but knowing how to manage it is the key. The APA defines test anxiety as the tension and apprehension that comes with taking a test. Sometimes test anxiety makes you more attentive, but if it’s too severe, it can be crippling and affect your performance. Managing your test anxiety can help you concentrate and be confident in acing your SAT and ACT tests.



What causes Test Anxiety?

 Anxiety, in general, can result from a lot of stress or anticipating some stressful event. Normally, the human body is calibrated to handle danger by releasing hormones to make you hyper-aware. The same reaction is triggered by stress. Your heightened awareness leaves you with sweaty palms, shivers, and an elevated heartbeat.

 With tests like the SAT or ACT, students tend to dwell too much on what will go wrong than what can be right. Too many negative thoughts also cause test anxiety, so students cannot concentrate on anything other than maybe I should do this differently, or what if I get this question wrong. Test anxiety makes you lose focus, but it happens if you’re either unprepared or too afraid.


How do you deal with it?

Dealing with test anxiety is much easier if you have the proper support and the correct habits. Here are some tips to help you deal with your test anxiety.

1. Prepare Well

Studying in advance for the SATs and ACTs is more effective. The test subjects might be too heavy to study, but dividing your workload over a long period of time is better. Start studying at least six months before the tests. Little by little, one day at a time, is the way to go – last-minute studying helps, but only if that’s not all you did to prepare.

2. Practice, practice, and practice

Test anxiety can happen at any time, especially when solving complex questions. To avoid doubting yourself when attempting difficult questions, practice them before. Repeatedly solving questions of the same pattern drills the method for solving it, making you more efficient and the question easier.

3. Don’t think negatively

Never dwell on what you can’t control. This is possible when you follow the above two steps so you’ll know what you can expect from the test. Nevertheless, there will be certain things you can’t predict. Leave the negative thinking behind and focus on what you know.

4. Pre-testing always helps

With tests like SAT and ACT, you should definitely pre-test because it familiarizes you with the testing mindset. It prepares you to handle stress and anxiety better, so you’re not caught unawares. Simply pre-testing is not enough; learn from your mistakes and improve yourself.

5. Establish a routine

Train your mind as much as you train your body. Make a schedule, establish a routine, and work accordingly. Include a good amount of study time and refresh yourself with breaks. Take a walk, stretch, and do some exercises. Most importantly, eat and sleep well. You’re not a machine so your body needs the rest; studying efficiently means balancing your needs. Meditation is often underrated, but it helps clear your mind and dedicate more mental space to positive thoughts and healthy cognitive processes.


Seven Square Learning is dedicated to the student’s needs by not only training them for the SAT and ACT, but pays attention to their mental health. Promoting and maintaining a healthy mindset is key to ensuring a student’s success, so managing and keeping test anxiety at bay becomes much easier.




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