Whether you are taking the IELTS, the TOEFL or any English test, it is not enough to have flawless Grammar and months of prep. These things can be overridden by anxiety. This is why preparing yourself mentally is also important. Remember that focus is affected by anxiety and succumb to anxiety means that getting your head in the game will be tough if not impossible.
Here are some tips that you can try out to beat the nerves.
- Get to the bottom of the anxiety. What is making you nervous? There is probably a problem. Identify the problem but be specific about it. In other words, do not say that “My grammar sucks.” Say, instead, what makes your grammar sucks. “I am not very good at subject-verb agreement”. The first problem would take ages to correct, but the second statement gives you focus. Identifying what makes you anxious would help you beat the nerves because it also gives you a realistic idea of how to solve the problem.
- Do positive self-talk. We are only humans and we are our harshest critic. More often than not, test takers are probably thinking about the bad side of the performance. The trick is to identify the resources you have to address the problem. If your pronunciation needs work, what exactly do you have or what you can do in order to better it. Do you have, for instance, internet connection so you can watch videos that may help you with speaking? Can you set aside time to read out loud?
The formula is this:
Specific Problem + What I can do about it
“My p and f pronunciation needs work, but I can download tongue twisters that I can use for practice whenever I have free time.”
- Talk to someone who can give you an unbiased assessment of your performance. This is one of the advantages of being in a prep program where your teachers can sit with you. Ask for a couple of minutes to air your concerns. Doing this will help you release some of your anxiety as well as help you identify the things you still need to work on.
- Once you are completely ready to take the test, let go. The skills are there, now you need to focus. Clear your mind and do your job. You know you can hit the marks you need in one go. What are you afraid of?
Remember that you may have problems in terms of preparation, but it will always be within your power to find solutions for it. Keep this in mind and you can be mentally prepared.