“How to Eliminate Severe NCLEX-RN Test-Taking Anxiety”
Test-taking anxiety occurs with fear of the unknown…unknown result of the examination. To do well on any exam, active anxiety control is needed. Mild anxiety is somewhat helpful because it can be a motivator that can push the candidate to take a test seriously and prepare adequately for it. Severe anxiety however can lead to negative consequences that can affect the test score. Here are some helpful tips on how to reduce if not, eliminate severe test-taking anxiety associated with NCLEX-RN examination.
Focus on your goal. Your goal is to become an RN…an NCLEX-RN passer. Focus on that.
A positive attitude matters a lot. When thoughts like “What if I fail?” gets into your head, think of positive thoughts to interrupt the negative thoughts. When you start to question your ability to pass the NCLEX-RN examination, think about how you prepared for the examination. If you have reviewed and prepared adequately, then it is time to get it over with. Look forward to finally taking the examination and just get it done. Imagine yourself as an NCLEX passer and the things you want to do after the examination. Remember that worrying will not help you reduce your anxiety. So, when you begin to worry, start thinking positive and happy thoughts.
Before and during the examination, use guided imagery, meditation, and guided visualization as relaxation techniques to help decrease your feelings of anxiety. Play a soothing music days before you take the exam to help you feel calm. On the day of the examination, do deep breathing exercises and a five-minute meditation. This will help calm your nerves and allow for a better blood circulation.
- STRESS MANAGEMENT
Manage your stressors and your stress responses. Use stress management strategies when preparing for your NLCEX-RN examination. This will give you a sense of control over your test-anxiety. How do you do this? First, avoid unnecessary stress by learning to say “no.” Do not take more than you can handle. Second, limit the time you spend with people who are your stressors. Third, alter your environment to make it less stressful. Fourth, avoid conversations that make your blood boil. Fifth, list down your things to do and prioritize those that are necessary. Those that can wait or may be eliminated, don’t burden yourself trying to do them.
- EAT HEALTHY
A well-nourished body can better cope with stressful situations. Eat your breakfast and choose nutritious meals that keep you energetic, not lethargic. Avoid too much caffeine in your diet and too much alcoholic beverages. Avoid foods that can trigger your allergic reactions or can upset your stomach. Avoid spicy foods and acidic foods.
- SLEEP WELL
Adequate sleep allows for rejuvenation of body cells that keep you going throughout the day. Sleep also fuels the mind to think clearly and critically. When you are able to manage your anxiety with relaxation techniques, you will be able to sleep well. Avoid stimulating your mind through gadgets and television when you try to go to sleep. If you need to dim the lights in order to fall asleep, then do it. If you need music to help you doze off to sleep, then listen to music. Whatever routine you need to do in order to fall asleep, do it.
- HEALTHY DIVERSION
Diversional activities such as chatting with a very close friend, watching a favorite movie, writing a blog post, watching a favorite TV show, reading a book, going for a walk, jogging or running, working out, writing a journal, playing with a pet, gardening, cooking or baking, getting a whole body massage, getting a hair rebond, a manicure or a pedicure, going for a bike ride, and many more can help you take your mind off worrying over your NCLEX-RN examination. Think of anything that can divert your from your exam.
An essential part of your test preparation is adequate review of the lessons you found hard in college. Reviewing some important topics you need to strengthen yourself with, can help alleviate your anxiety. Knowing the test framework and reviewing the techniques for answering NCLEX type of questions will help you build your self-confidence.
Practice answering NCLEX test questions on a computer. Time yourself if you need to. Score your results. Know the rationales in every test item and review the areas or topics where you are weak.
- OCULAR SURVEY
Visit your test site the day before you take your NCLEX-RN examination. Be familiar with the route from where you are staying to the testing center and how to get back to your accommodation. Not knowing where exactly to go on the day of the examination will only add up to your anxiety.
When your stress response is elevated beyond a certain level due to anxiety, your brain can lose the ability to think clearly and your memory function may be affected. This is not good for your NCLEX-RN examination. You have got to manage your stress response by alleviating your anxiety using the tips mentioned above. Remember to focus, think positive, relax, manage your stress response, eat healthy, sleep well, divert your worried mind, review and practice answering questions, and take a tour at your testing site. Learn to savor this experience and understand that whatever happens, everything you are going through has some life lessons for you and for other people. Keep the FAITH. Your NCLEX-RN license is within reach.
McDowell, B. M. (2008). KATTS: A Framework for Maximizing NCLEX-RN Performance. Educational Innovations, 183-186.
Oregon State University. (2011). Stress Management Strategies. Retrieved from oregonstate.edu: http://success.oregonstate.edu/sites/success.oregonstate.edu/files/LearningCorner/Tools/stress_management_strategies.pdf