How to Decrease Test-Taking Stress & Anxiety

Mood management is critical for performing well on the MCAT. The good news is that there are several things you can do to regulate that. Doing so is critical because stress and anxiety can really cut down your performance on the MCAT. The reason for that is when they amygdala is engaged and you have that anxiety response it really interferes with the executive function in your frontal cortex and interferes with the production of neurotransmitters. So what do you do?

There are several resources we recommend looking into that will give you some exercises that can help.

First, check out Sonja Lyubomirsky’s book: The How of Happiness

Then, there’s a wonderful series of lectures on YouTube by Shawn Achor, who co-taught a course on this at Harvard. It’s called “The Science of Happiness.” Now don’t be put off by that title. When he’s talking about the science of happiness he’s really talking about mood management. He goes into the test performance and cognitive performance part of it as well. It is really a wonderful series of three short videos on Youtube that will really get you thinking on how important the neuroscience and the neuropsychology of this is.

Here are the links:

     Part 1

     Part 2

     Part 3

Also check out Tal Ben Shahar. He has a bunch of great books but we’d recommend starting with “Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment.”

The exercises that they suggest are combinations of journaling, different types of meditation and visualization. And if you go to their books and take a look at their discussions of different techniques for stress release they’ll give you a lot of different exercises to do. Their bibliographies and footnotes also give you the opportunity to look into the actual research that’s been conducted if that’s something you’re interested in.