Do you have any tips for dealing with test-day anxiety?
This is an important question, and one that I get a lot. Since it seems to have deep and complex psychological roots, test-day anxiety is tough for me to crack. But here are some thoughts that might help:
1. Knowledge kills fear. If you know that you're ready for everything the test will ask, then you can relax a little, secure in the knowledge that there's nothing they can throw at you that you haven't seen before. Dedicated, focused practice is required to get to that place, but I believe you can do it.
2. Do some of your prep in the food court at the mall. If you can learn to think under those conditions, then you'll be able to deal more easily with the smaller noises and distractions of the other test takers around you on test day.
3. Many prep companies offer free practice exams - take advantage (if you haven't already), just for the experience of sitting in a strange room, surrounded by strangers.
4. Learn and practice some visualization techniques: Picture yourself in the room on test day. In your head, walk through the entire experience of the day, from waiting in line, showing off your passport photo, to receiving the test booklet and listening to the inexorable drone of instructions, on through opening the seal with your pencil and turning the first page. Picture yourself owning that test. If you can see all of that, then once it happens, you'll already be in charge of it.
5. Find yourself a theme song. For my most recent test, I used "No Church in the Wild". You need something that kicks ass—you won't go wrong with "Eye of the Tiger". Play your song before every practice test you take, and play it on repeat as you drive to your test center on the day. YOU ARE ROCKY MOTHERF**ING BALBOA.
6. Remember that anxiety is an evolutionarily pre-programmed response. It's nature. You cannot expect to not feel nervous, and just saying to yourself "Hey, self, don't be nervous," won't stop it. Instead, recognize that the nerves are part of the experience, and that they will come, but that they do not get to win. The nerves don't mean anything. You are in control, and you will stay in control by allowing the anxiety to come on, recognizing it for the purely physical reaction that it is, and moving straight on past it.