What To Do Before The Step 1 Exam: Prepping The Mind And The Body

Ditch the Test-Taking Anxiety Monster in Nursing School

Alright, time to talk about the big thing on a lot of our minds…test-taking anxiety! And with nursing school exams creeping up, it’s a great time to learn some ways to just knock it out!

anxiety mnemonic character

Test-taking anxiety is a common issue among nursing school students, and we’ve all felt the pain at some point. The important thing to remember is that it’s all a head game. Here are some tips and tricks to remember before you run screaming for the hills.

1. Preparation is Key

The number one thing to remember is to be prepared. This will give you a positive attitude walking into the exam, and set your mind up for success. When you walk into the exam knowing your material, your head is already telling you: YOU GOT THIS. Anxiety stands no chance against you.

2 - Be Prepared

2. Ditch that 2nd Cuppa Joe

Enough sleep. Check. Healthy breaky. Check. But also- limit the caffeine before the test (gasp!) We understand; we’ve all had those mornings where we need an IV drip of coffee running through our veins, too. But try to refrain and keep it to one to two cups, just so you aren’t too jittery during the test.

15 - limit or avoid caffeine

3. Walk it Out

You know that guy who is sitting there frantically ruffling through his notes and pacing around five minutes before the exam? Don’t be that guy. In fact, get away from that guy. Take a five minute walk before the exam to clear your head. You’ll walk in with a fresh mind instead of hyperventilating into a paper bag.

4 - Take a Walk

4. Double Bubble

Studies suggest that chewing gum before the exam improves performance. Right before the exam starts, grab something with a really strong flavour, like cinnamon or spearmint. It’ll keep you alert, especially if you don’t have that caffeine buzz going!

5 - Chew Gum

5. Channel Your Inner Yogi

test-taking anxiety - yogi

If you start panicking, try some relaxation techniques. A good go-to is deep breathing. We’re talking big breaths here! Inhale through your nose for five seconds, hold it for three seconds, then slowly let it out. Do this about three times, and you’ll notice a significant difference.

6. Think About Your Toes

7 - Toes 2 - small

Ok, now you’ve tried everything, but your blood pressure is rising, and other students are walking out of the room on their merry way while you’re melting down. What now?! *Think About your Toes.* When the panic sets in and you start to lose focus, wiggling your toes will bring you back to the present moment and put you right back on track to where your focus needs to be. Go ahead, try it!

Take Aways

If there is one thing you should take away from all this (aside from a newfound appreciation for your toes), is to be prepared. If you know your content, the rest is all just a mind game that you can easily beat! Click below to see how Picmonic can help you learn to master the content so you can ditch that anxiety monster once and for all!

If you have any tips or tricks on test taking anxiety that could help other students, give us a shout at feedback@picmonic.com!

Good luck on those exams and let us know how you did!


Marlee Liberman

Marlee Liberman, RN, Master Nursing Scholar

As a registered nurse, Marlee understands the struggles that nursing school throws at you – not to mention the overwhelming pressure preparing for the NCLEX®! Marlee brings a unique skill set and perspective to Picmonic with her previous degree in broadcast journalism, her creativity in video production, and her wandering nomad lifestyle. Her blend of talents provides her with the knack for simplifying complicated concepts and demystifying the world of nursing.

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