Dealing with Test Anxiety in an Online Setting

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Brought to you by the Learning Support Centre

Test anxiety is hard, especially when learning in a virtual and remote learning environment. Doing tests in an online environment can bring on new stresses such as more distractions, not having an instructor in the room for support, and even preparing for the test can be different as well. Our world is virtual these days and it’s a big adjustment for a lot of us. 

If you have test anxiety, you may experience physical symptoms such as an upset stomach, sweaty palms, or a racing heart. You may also have trouble recalling information and thinking clearly. If test anxiety is interfering with your performance, try some of the following suggestions. 

5 tips for overcoming test anxiety:

1. Be prepared

Yes, this seems obvious, but it’s a big one. The more prepared you are, the more confident you’ll feel logging onto the test. 

Review tough concepts or question types by testing yourself using Quizlet, making your own flash cards, or reviewing material/questions with your peers on video chat or on the phone. These strategies will help you retain information as well as align your studying with test taking practices.

2. Get to the testing site/page early

Feeling rushed will only make your anxiety worse. Prepare all you need for the exam the night before (water bottle, study notes and textbook if it’s open book and allowed, a snack) and set an alarm on your phone for about 20-30 minutes before the test

Getting ready early means you can get to your computer/work area on time, set it up to ensure your computer and/or internet doesn’t have any issues, and get focused for the test. 

This also allows you time to take some breaths and center yourself before the test. 

3. Read carefully

Read the instructions and questions thoroughly. Read all options before making a choice and/or starting your response. You don’t want spend time on a question and then realize you are not answering the questions correctly or that your essay is off topic. 

Slowing down can help you to stay focused, get things right, and manage your time correctly 

4. Don't forget to eat and drink on the day of your test 

Your brain needs fuel to function. Eat something healthy the day of your test and drink lots of water. 

Avoid high sugary drinks such as pop and juice, which can cause your blood sugar to peak and then drop, and caffeinated drinks such as energy drinks or coffee, which can increase anxiety and make it more difficult to calm your nerves before and during a test. 

5. Get a good night’s sleep

Cramming is never the answer, and pulling an all-nighter can make you more anxious due to lack of rest. Getting a good sleep (8–10 hours) the night before your test is likely to be more beneficial than rereading your notes until dawn.

In addition to following these tips, remember your goal is to be as prepared as can be and do your best. If you are in need of clarifications or additional support about your material, make sure you reach out to your instructor well before the test so they can assist you in a timely manner. Usually instructors cannot assist during a test and it can be harder to reach them in a virtual or remote setting. Make sure you connect with them in advance, giving yourself enough time to get help before the test. 

Lastly, remind yourself of past successes as well. You have done this once, you can do it again! Using your resources, preparing properly, and taking care of yourself will all help you be successful and less anxious for your tests. 

If you are concerned about your test anxiety and would like to talk about it with someone, the Mohawk College Counselling team may be able to help! You can email or call them to learn more about their services and set up a virtual appointment. Email: counselling [at] Phone: 905-575-2211 


For more information on dealing with testing anxiety and strategies for taking tests, enroll in Keys to Success on MyCanvas or register for a workshop. 


Tips in this post were derived from the following resources: 

10 Ways to Overcome Test Anxiety. (n.d.). Retrieved June 02, 2020, from 

Brown University. (n.d.). Retrieved June 02, 2020, from…