Study Tips

Overcoming Testing Anxiety: Part 1

Osmosis Team
Published on Nov 22, 2020. Updated on Dec 7, 2020.

Testing anxiety…. Just the thought of it gives you stomach butterflies, right? As healthcare professional students, the weight of these exams are heavy: but overcoming test anxiety is possible. At Osmosis, we want to give you the tools to balance that boulder so you don’t bear the whole pressure: learning the right strategies and techniques to prepare you for tests is crucial. On today’s blog, we will go over the top takeaways from part 1 of a webinar hosted by Marina Horiates, our Content Manager for Questions, to help with overcoming testing anxiety before the exam with structured studying techniques. 

What is testing anxiety?

Testing anxiety or test-taking anxiety is defined as a special form of anxiety characterized by somatic, cognitive and behavioral symptoms of anxiety before or during test-taking situations that interfere with performance. These symptoms can look like brain fog, stomach pains, nausea, vomiting, headache, visual changes, and non-bloody diarrhea, to name a few. 

Studies have shown that 25% of undergraduate students suffer from testing anxiety, with graduate student percentages being even higher. 

What can you do to ease nerves before the exam?

Make a study schedule and set realistic goals.

Plan ahead and create a study schedule that works best for you and your goals as a student. Do not wait until the last minute to create a schedule; It will not work for you then. Use our study schedule—it’s easy to set up, will generate all the Osmosis materials for specific organ system tests, and incorporates outside resources like Sketchy, Boards and Beyond, and First Aid, to name a few. 

Manage your breaks using the Pomodoro technique 

Distractions are a medical student’s enemy. We must learn to manage them. Schedule your study time into 25 minute increments with five-minute breaks. After four rounds, treat yourself to a 30–40 minute break. Take a walk, call a friend, go to the gym. Then, come right back and start it all over again. 

You’ll realize how much you got down when you schedule time for distractions instead of letting them schedule you!

Simulate a testing environment with timed practice questions

The best way to overcome your test-taking fears is to face them repeatedly before the high-stakes day of the exam. Marina suggests that the best way is to do timed practice questions with board-style questions, like the ones Osmosis offers, in a location similar to where you take your tests. The more exposure, the easier it is to face your fears of test-taking. 

Practice self-efficacy

Have you ever looked in the mirror and whispered, “You can do this”? Well, Marina advises to continue talking to yourself. 

You must believe in yourself. Test-taking anxiety comes from a belief that you can’t control the outcome—but you can! 

Recognize learning disabilities

What word do you see in disability? Ability! You have the ability to help others as a future health care professional, but don’t forget to take care of yourself first. If you realize that you’ve tried all these strategies and there’s still something wrong, you may have a learning disability. It’s okay to seek help. It may be the barrier between you and your goals. 

These are some of the key takeaways from the overcoming test anxiety webinar: Part 1 with Marina. Go check out the whole webinar here to get an in-depth and personal account of studying strategies that worked for her.

You can and will overcome testing anxiety! 



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