First and most important: Make sure you are prepared for the exam and have mastered the material.

Two days before the exam, make up your own test. Include as many of the various types of questions that you think the teacher would put on the exam. On the day before the exam, take your test to the exam room at a time that the room will be empty, sit in your usual spot, and imagine the teacher handing you your exam. Since you made up the exam, you will know how to do all the problems. Go through the exam you made up. Do all the questions and actually take it up and place it on the teacher's desk. Now grade your exam. Write a big "100%--A+" in red pen on the exam and take it back to your seat and imagine the teacher giving you the test.

If it's impossible to actually DO the above, choose a quiet time and place and mentally act out the above situation. It's especially important to imagine getting the exam, "seeing" actual questions, answering each of them correctly, and imagining getting your test back with a perfect score. You cannot allow yourself to "see" any questions that you don't know. Questions you don't know are NOT on this test.

On the day of the exam, make sure you get at least 8 hours of sleep the night before. Sleep deprivation causes anxiety.

Eat a high protein breakfast: protein actually makes your brain think faster. Avoid fatty foods and carbohydrates. Those take up oxygen in the blood stream and make the thinking process slow down. Eating lots of green vegetables (especially dark green, like broccoli) for a few days before an exam can help reduce tension–it has to do with the vitamin B12 in those vegetables.

Get to the exam room early. If you're at all rushed, your mind will not be able to focus on the test. Make sure you have everything you need: pens, pencils, erasers, paper, tissues, calculators, etc.

Look over your notes until the last second, but do NOT look over things that you don't know. Keep reviewing things that are familiar to you. If you've prepared properly, EVERYTHING will be familiar.

When you get the test, write your name on it, but don't do any more writing until you've read the entire test. Put a star next to all the easy questions and after you've finished looking over the whole test, go back and do the easiest questions first. Leave the hardest questions to the very end.

If you find yourself getting tense, nervous, and sweaty during the test, relax, take a REALLY, REALLY deep breath and hold it for the count of five. Exhale very slowly (count to 5 while exhaling). Do that five times and keep your mind on your breathing, nothing else.

If all else fails, talk to your instructor and see if an alternative can be worked out. Perhaps you could take the test in his/her office where you could ask questions more easily. Maybe your instructor has specific activities to overcome math anxiety. Look into every possibility.

Last Updated: 6/7/12