How can I address my test anxiety?

Here are some tips on reducing anxiety when it comes to preparing for and taking the ATI TEAS Exam.

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How to Handle Test Anxiety:


If you are struggling with test anxiety, it can lead to physical symptoms such as feeling nauseous, having sweaty palms, and having a racing heart. It may also make it difficult to remember information or think clearly. If test anxiety is having an impact on your performance or your quality of life, consider the following advice.

Possible Causes of Test Anxiety: Think about why you are feeling anxious and try to come up with a solution, whether it be a change in behavior or a change in thinking (reframing the situation). Possible solutions are listed below, but you can also come up with your own.

Accommodation: If you have a documented accommodation, make sure you submit your request at least 30 days prior to your exam date.


Before the ATI TEAS Exam:


  1. Keep things in perspective. Remind yourself that the exam is important, but it does not determine your entire future. For instance, many successful nursing and allied health professionals have had academic struggles in the past.
  2. Visualize completing the test successfully despite your anxiety. Using vivid images, play the whole “tape” in your mind—from the moment you wake up on the day of the exam to the moment you finish the exam.
  3. Understand the format of the TEAS Exam. Knowing what to expect will lower your anxiety. Many students say that taking the Official ATI TEAS Practice Tests helped them calm their anxiety. The practice tests are designed to mimic the actual exam in both look and feel and question type.
  4. If you're scared about finishing the exam on time, do timed practice questions. Official ATI TEAS Practice Tests were developed to mimic the actual exam. They come with the same calculator and timer that you will experience during the actual exam.
  5. If you are taking the TEAS exam remotely (at home), make sure you have completed the Dry Run at least 48 hours before your proctored TEAS exam. This will make sure you don’t encounter any technical difficulties on the day of the exam which would increase your anxiety level.  And review How to Set Up Your Room.
  6. It is impossible to learn every detail on the TEAS exam, so you should focus on the major concepts and know them well enough to teach them. Remind yourself that understanding the major concepts will help you guess correctly on the details you cannot recall during the test. The Official ATI TEAS Study Manual and ATI TEAS SmartPrep Tutorial were designed to give in-depth instruction on the major concepts that will be covered on the proctored Exam.
  7. Get a good night's sleep for several days before the exam. With enough sleep, your capacity to think clearly and cope with anxiety will improve.
  8. If you have high anxiety, reduce your caffeine intake on the day of the exam. Caffeine can increase the physical symptoms of anxiety.

During the ATI TEAS Exam:

  1. If you are taking the TEAS Exam at a testing location/school: Get to the test site early but try to avoid talking with other students just before the exam. (Their anxieties may increase your own.) Instead, take a walk around the building and silently talk to yourself, meditate, breathe, and/or pray. Moving your body can help get rid of some of the nervous energy you are experiencing.
    If you are taking the test from home: Make sure you have completed the Dry Run and log in to the exam early. You can log in as early as 30 minutes prior to your exam start time.
  2. Remind yourself that you don’t know all the material that could appear on the test and nobody else does either. Still, you can do your best to get some “mileage” out of what you do know. And if you don’t know the answer to a question, eliminate the answers you think could be wrong and make your best guess. During the TEAS exam, you can skip a question within a section and come back to it if time allows. Most importantly, don’t leave a question unanswered – you have more of a chance to make an educated guess rather than leave it blank and get it marked as incorrect.
  3. Expect a few curve balls on the exam. Remind yourself that you're not planning to get 100% on the exam; you're expecting to get your goal score. Therefore, when you encounter a curve ball on the exam, don’t get upset and lose your concentration. Instead, you can either make an educated guess now or mark the question and come back later.
  4. If you continue to feel overly anxious, do the following ANXIETY CONTROL PROCEDURE to reduce your tension
    • Close your eyes.
    • Breathe in slowly to the count of seven and exhale to the count of seven.

    Continue this slow breathing until you feel your body begin to relax. (Most people find that it takes 2 to 4 sequences.)

    • Open your eyes and give yourself a positive, very specific self-talk (i.e., "You're sure to do well. You studied hard. You’re doing the best you can.") This whole procedure should take only about a minute and it's worth the time.
    • Move your body. Roll your shoulders, stretch your legs, and get up for a bathroom break. You are allowed a short break following the completion of the match section of the TEAS.
  5. Do not obsess about running out of time on the test. Check the time periodically, but avoid checking too frequently, as this will only distract you and make you more anxious.
  6. HERE’S THE MOST IMPORTANT TIP: Take your studying seriously but think of the test as a game. Your goal is to collect as many points as you can in the time available. Do not dwell on a particularly difficult question. If you are uncertain of the answer, guess and move on. Remind yourself that you can miss several questions and still do well.