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How to Combat Test Anxiety

Woman overwhelmed from test anxiety.

If you’re preparing to take the IBLCE exam, you’re probably feeling a little anxious. This year, even more than most, it feels like such a waiting game. Perhaps you’d planned on taking the spring exam and it was postponed. Maybe you planned on taking the fall exam, but you’ve had added stressors due to the pandemic. Either way, you’re not alone if you have test anxiety.

Test anxiety is normal! It’s completely normal to be nervous before a test — after all, this is a career-critical exam! But, test anxiety can lead to poor performance, so it’s important to learn to cope. Today I’ll provide some tips on how to deal with anxiety at test time.

Maintain a routine

There are only a few days until the test date but maintaining a simple routine can decrease test anxiety. Try to wake up at the same time and study in the same place. Find what works for you

Get nourishment

Some test-takers find that they get so consumed with studying, they forget to eat, or grab not-so-healthy foods. Maybe they load up on energy drinks and coffee to stay up late studying. Instead, try to eat well-balanced meals and stay hydrated. High amounts of caffeine can add to test anxiety and cause the jitters. Fuel your brain!

Think positive

It’s important to think positively and be confident in your abilities. Focus on the knowledge gained during your preparation, rather than what you “might not know.” Focusing on what you DO know helps to alleviate test anxiety.

Think about what motivates you. A member of my team has a soundtrack she plays before tough challenges to get herself psyched up. She says it gives her a few minutes to relax, but it’s also a song that gets her amped up in a positive way.

Does that work for everyone? No. But maybe the Rocky theme song will help you visualize success!

Get enough sleep

You’ll hear me say it again and again. Do not pull an all-nighter the evening prior to your exam! Sleep deprivation will only add to your test anxiety. In the days leading up to the exam, go to bed at a reasonable hour.

Use relaxation techniques

Hypnosis, listening to calming music, or adding lavender to a bath or diffuser may help you get into a more relaxed state. Those are some simple time-tested ways to get into a more relaxed state.

You might not think of exercise as a “relaxation technique” but in a way, it is. If you do some vigorous exercise, you can burn off some of your anxiety. About 30 minutes on the elliptical machine does the job for me. Other times, I use a stationary bike or take a bike ride outside.

Arrive early

I don’t know about you, but I hate being late. The thought of being late causes me great anxiety, even for regular occasions like lunch with a friend. My test anxiety would be sky high if I thought that I might be late to take my exam!

If you’re driving to the testing center, be sure to have alternate routes planned out and plan to arrive well before your testing time. In some locations, you might find it’s tough to get a parking place.

When I’ve taken the exam, the instructions say I should arrive 30 minutes early. Last time, I could see why. There was a line of people ahead of me, waiting to check in to the testing center. I was still a little early for my scheduled testing time, but I was still uneasy about whether I was going to be seated on time.

In any event, it’s better to arrive early and wait a few minutes in your car or get a few moments of fresh air than to stress out in an unfamiliar area.

You might have a few moments to do some deep-breathing to combat test anxiety while you wait. If you’re taking the exam with a remote proctor, be on early to avoid technological problems.

How are you combating test anxiety? Share your tips with fellow candidates below!

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  1. Jean Gloria

    Thank you so much for all your advices.This is it!I’m taking the exam on September 8,now I’m taking your sample test that Im enrolled over and over again so far I’m getting a good
    score plan to relax the day before the test.I have the Atlas 6 edition from our work any tip how to study with the atlas book?
    Thank you!

    • Marie Biancuzzo

      Oh, Jean, I thought you’d never ask! Yes, For years and years, I’ve seen people flip through the photos in the Breastfeeding Atlas but not really know how to “decipher” the photos. Seems to me that readers need to be challenged, rather that just “memorizing” the photos. So yes, indeed, I do have a tip! A big tip! I create my Decoding Photos workbook to help you with studying from the Atlas. Here’s a description of my workbook, and you should read it. BUT, that page makes it seem as if you need to buy both things, and you really don’t. We just worry that people won’t understand that the workbook does not function alone. So if you already own the Atlas, you can buy just the workbook. It’s got tons of written exercises, quiz questions at the end of each of the 18 chapters, and more. Trouble is, if you’re taking the exam on September 8, we can’t ship it have it reach you in tme.

  2. Dawn

    Helpful advice. I, too, have been studying from your tests and quizzes. All helpful. Am taking the exam on the 10th and am so glad I found a place close to home!! Thank you for your support.

    • Marie Biancuzzo

      Oh Dawn, I’m so glad. So glad. Honestly, I am at the point in my career where I am as passionate about getting people to pass that exam as I am about helping mothers to breastfeed! At this point, try not to just reassure yourself that you know your stuff, and get some rest. I promise, there IS life after that exam! Best wishes to you!

  3. Kim Cook

    I’m getting ready to take exam tomorrow on Sept. 9th. Doing Remote Proctoring so I don’t have to drive 6 hours. I’m definitely anxious but trying to feel confident. Studying in varying ways today. Going over weak spots (research!) and looking a t three sample tests I took and what I missed.

    • Marie Biancuzzo

      Kim, by the time you read this, you will be FINISHED! I remember you to be hugely smart and capable. I am very confident you will pass with flying colors!

  4. Jean Gloria

    Hi,I took the IBCLE exam last September 8,2020.I know the results is not until after 10 weeks.I took your 90 hour program and I saw another exam to become a Certified Clinical Lactationist ,what is my benefit to take the test and what do I study to prepare myself for the exam.
    Thank you
    Jean Gloria

  5. Kim Cook

    Marie, thanks for all your help! Despite awful tech issues, I think I did pretty well and felt prepared by your course and advice. I would recommend to anyone to go to a testing center if at all possible. It took me 6 1/2 hours of which 3 were testing. I would highly recommend your class!

    • Marie Biancuzzo

      Kim, wow, thank you, and everyone else who is reading this, LISTEN UP! Kim is saying that you should “go to a testing center if at all possible.” I had no idea it would be such a hassle to test from home. Wow, 6 1/2 hours would have set me nuts! Totally nuts! Meanwhile, Kim, thank you for your high recommendation for my 90-hour course. I am passionate about getting people to pass this exam, so I really do work hard to create a solid (and hopefully, enjoyable!) course! Thanks again.

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