How to Relieve Stress While Preparing for AP Tests

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As we enter the last marking period of the school year, summer is in sight. However, the work is not quite over yet, as there are still a few standardized tests that have to be taken by many students at Lenape, including the dreaded AP testing. There are a lot of sophomores, juniors, and seniors who have signed up to take AP tests this year. While taking these tests will save the stress later on of having to take certain classes in college, they certainly do not relieve any stress at the moment. As a junior, I myself feel the constant pressure that these looming tests place on students. While I can’t help but stress over these tests, I know that it does me no good, and in fact may even be hurting not only my success on AP tests, but also my mental and physical health. This is why I have created a list for anybody taking AP tests, any other standardized tests, or even preparing for any big tests in class to relieve some of their stress.

  1. Exercise. Exercise releases endorphins in the body which work to reduce stress. I am well aware that many people do not enjoy exercising in their free time, but it really does help to relieve stress. I am a runner and I feel significantly more stressed between seasons when I am not running than when I do go for runs everyday. Exercise also increases people’s focus and productivity, which means that not only will it relieve some of your stress, it will also allow you to complete your work faster and get more done.
  2. Make a list. By writing everything that you have to do on paper, you will be able to organize your thoughts better and make a concrete study plan. It will also make your studies seem more manageable and help you keep track of everything to ensure that you will not forget to do anything. Another bonus is that you will get to feel more productive by being able to physically cross something off the list when you accomplish a task.
  3. Reward yourself. Something that helps to not feel too overworked is to set up rewards for achieving certain milestones in your studying. An example is watching one episode of a tv show for every two hours that you study, or eating one piece of candy for every ten problems you successfully solve. This helps keep you focused and as a bonus makes your studying much more enjoyable, therefore lowering the stress that studying tends to bring with it.
  4. Do not do too much at once. Studying all day is not going to help you because you will be too tired to make good use of your time. By studying a little bit each day over an extended period of time, you will allow your brain to recover so that you can retain more information during the time that you do spend studying, and you get to relax the rest of the time, which reduces your stress.
  5. Study with other people. Something that makes studying for test a lot more fun is by doing it with other people. Whether it is with a group of friends, or you just get a parent or sibling to help you, preparing for tests with others can make studying a lot of fun and not as much of a chore. In addition, it can also end up helping you do better on your tests because they can help explain things to you that you are unclear on, and you can explain things to them to create a deeper understanding. You will all help each other.
  6. Breathe. Sometimes all it takes to relieve stress is to just spend a few seconds focusing on your breathing. It helps to relax your body and is also a useful tool for clearing your mind from everything that is going on. One helpful trick to even your breathing is to breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold it in for 7 seconds, and exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds. Doing this a few time really helps to calm you down.
  7. Put things into perspective. Remind yourself that one test does not define you. The score that you get on this test will not significantly impact your life in anyway. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t study or try your best, but don’t make yourself sick by stressing over something that will not affect you a few years down the road. You will get where you want to go in life, you will do the things you want, and chances are you won’t even remember your score within months of getting it.

I hope that these tips help make the AP testing season seem a little bit less intimidating. Good luck on your tests!