Do you stress out when it comes to test-taking?

Research shows that imagining a stressful scenario and pairing it with positive coping skills in our mind can translate into having better-coping mechanisms in the real world.

Try this technique of playing a “mental tape” of how you would handle a test day.

Susan Bryant, a Student Success Coach at Ivy Tech Indianapolis, says that based on her research of visualization techniques, the following path is a good way to play a mental tape before a test or exam.

  • Close your eyes and visualize yourself doing well on the test.


  • See yourself waking up and feeling relaxed the morning of the exam.


  • Imagine feeling calm as you go over your notes one last time before the test.
  • Say the positive self-talk you need to hear.


  • Imagine taking a few deep breaths just before your test begins. See yourself looking at the exam and feeling confident that you can do this.


  • Imagine yourself working through the exam at a steady pace.


  • Visualize a difficult question coming up but looking at it, giving it your best shot, and moving on.


  • See yourself working through the test slow and steady, feeling very focused.


  • Imagine an anxious thought arising, recognizing it, but then letting it flow past you.


  • See yourself finishing the test and feeling good about how you did. Then see yourself having some small positive reward that same day.

The key to this technique is practice! Just like mastering a new physical skill, acquiring a new mental skill requires repetition.

This Tips & Tricks column was written by Ivy Tech Indianapolis' Student Success and Retention Office. The Student Success Office helps students have a more successful college experience! Contact the office at

About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.