Some Other Ideas to Help Quell Test-Day Nerves
1. Warm-up Problems. Whatever section (LR, Games, or RC) you most dread seeing first on test day, take a few questions of that type and warm up with them before the test. Here's the catch: it should be something you've seen before. Preferably, choose something that is linked to a good memory, such as the first logic game that you did perfectly. Whatever you choose should be comfortable, familiar, and linked to positive memories. As you do the questions, focus on the methodology you use for getting them correct and how easy it is once you put your mind to it. Don't worry about taking an answer key or checking your answers; the idea is just to warm up and focus.
2. Take something to read or listen to. Even if you're going to be too nervous to actually read a novel, it's a good idea to take one with you. That way, you can pretend to read and keep people from talking to you. Don't take a magazine, though. People will try to read it over your shoulder.
3. One of my students loved to listen to the Rocky theme before taking tests. She claimed it got her into the perfect mindset. She also chewed the same kind of gum while taking the test as she did while studying.
4. Dress the part. Clothes can help with confidence. Dressing well can help you feel confident, and confidence is the best weapon against nervousness. Just be sure to wear something with layers in case the test center is too cold or too hot. Both are possibilities during the June exam when air conditioning can be chilling a room to ice-box temperatures.
5. Focus on the Questions, not on the Score. The best way to make yourself more nervous is to think about your score while taking the test. Focus only on the question in front of you and getting it correct. I use a technique called the 'dramatic pause' when I practice. It's a pause after the first sentence of any paragraph in order to tell my brain to focus. I reread the first sentence if I have to in order to get my mind on the material at hand and away from everything else.
6. Regroup if the nervousness begins to interfere. Especially for logic games, frustration levels can get high since it's easy to misread something and get stuck. If you find yourself beginning to stress over a game, you must put down your pencil and take a moment to breathe deeply. These few seconds will save huge amounts of time and frustration in the end, since returning to the game with a fresh face can help immensely. Also, if you're stuck on a game, move on to the next one after the deep breathing. It's better to spend time on answering the questions for a new game rather thant to continue to waste precious time by working on a game that is giving you grief. Whatever you're not seeing in the game will probably click into focus after you finish another game and come back.
7. Consider ditching the timer. Time can be a huge stresser. I like to call the deluxe silent timer the "Panic attack in a Box". People always ask 'How am I supposed to know when to move on if I don't have a timer?' Easy. Whenever you think to yourself 'maybe I should move on', you should move on. It's funny how timers work. No matter how much time you have left you think to yourself 'Oh my God! I only have 34 minutes left to do the remaining problems!' I discovered the joy of a timerless test by accident when mine was confiscated on test day (it beeped on the hour). I thought that all was lost... How would I ever get through logic games without a timer?? Imagine my surprise when I finished all of my final sections with over 5 minutes to spare. Because I didn't have a timer to distract me, I could only focus on what was in front of me. I think I also worked more efficiently since I didn't know how much time I had left. I just very vividly remember popping my head up after bubbling in the final logic game question and thinking "Did I miss the 5 minute warning?" Nope. I was done that early. I've been a cleansed timer-addict ever since! Since then, I've seen a few students with test-anxiety see nice improvements once we managed to wrestle their timers away. So I recommend to everyone to try a timerless test at least once. It may not work for everyone, but you won't know whether it works for you until you try.
8. Feel superior. When you predict an answer choice and it's right there, let yourself feel superior. As you finish the first, easy logic game in the games section, give yourself permission to feel confident. The more confident you feel, the less nervous (and more focused) you will be. Don't let one snag ruin your confidence, either. Just move on to the next question. Remember how well you have prepped and that you are ready for anything!