Overcome Exam Anxiety… How?
exam anxiety, test anxiety, dental hygiene exam prep

Overcome Exam Anxiety… How?

exam anxiety, test anxiety, dental hygiene exam prep

Even the brightest dental hygiene students failed at the board exams. That is scary, I know. The problem? Anxiety.

You are about to take one of the biggest exams of your life. Even after spending all those semesters in dental hygiene school, you may be unsure about your ability to pass the National Boards (NBDHE, NDHCE). As the founder of StudentRDH and SmarterDA, I am determined to find the resources to help you overcome the mental challenges.

PIE is our acronym.

The #1 reason for having anxiety is the lack of planning and practicing.

P… is for Plan

The #1 reason for having anxiety is the lack of planning and practicing. Imagine that you are planning a wedding, and you don’t have a plan at all. You have a date, but no to do list or timeline. If you were scrambling to get things done without even knowing what needs to be done, you could imagine how chaotic the process will be.

The dental hygiene boards require you to study (a lot). There are about 17 subjects (more or less depending on the review material) that you must master. How are you going to tackle each one of them? What is your timeline?

Your turn: Today, take 30 minutes to write down what you will do. You will need:

  • A calendar
  • Your exam date
  • The list of subjects you need to study

StudentRDH has created a fill out form to help dental hygiene students formulate a plan. It’s FREE. Get it in your email.

I… is for Imagine

Our mind is creative and extremely powerful. We must use the mind’s powers to become successful. I am a big fan of Michael Phelps’s training story and how he won medals after medals. I will share the entire story in another post, but to summarize:

“Michael trained to visualize (imagine) his swimming every day. At night, he imagined the pool, the water on his skin, the kicks and strokes, the speed, and finally the goal. At the Beijing Olympics, he faced a major nightmare. His goggles were not resting tight enough on his face. Water started to come through his eyes and his vision was compromised. While this challenge could have completely thrown off other world-class swimmers, Michael just kept going. He had visualized endless time his lapses in the pool so he knew exactly what to do. Of course, he won the race!”

michael phelps

This story illustrates how we can train our mind to overcome anxiety. As a test-taker, this is what you can do:

  • Imagine you are creating a study plan, with details and deadlines
  • Imagine signing up for the exam
  • Imagine getting to the test center (even if you don’t know what it looks like)
  • Imagine reading the instructions for the test
  • Imagine starting with question #1, and being strong until question #100
  • Imagine taking your break, feeling refreshed, and coming back to the testing room
  • Imagine feeling accomplished at the end of the test

The more detailed the imagination is, the more powerful the connection it will be! For example, you can even visualize the clothes you will wear for the dental hygiene board exam (NBDHE, NDHCE). I think you get the idea! Channel in your Michael Phelps for success.

Your turn: Create all the possible scenarios in your head, give them life!

Pause, breathe, love

E… is for Emergency Break

There will be times when you still will be afraid and anxious. This can happen while you are studying for the examinations (NBDHE, NDHCE), while you are at school, the day before the exam, or during the exam. Anxiety has a tumbling, or snowball effect. It grows and grows with imagination to the point you want to give up and cry.

You need to know how to activate your emergency breaks before the negativity takes over your whole exam (or life). Use this phrase:

“When…… (I start feeling like I don’t know anything), then….. (I will think about my family vacation and how we swam in the ocean).”

In my case, it is:

“When…… (I start feeling like the world is on my shoulders), then…… (I think about all the students who have emailed me about their success.” I know it is very generic, but to share you my personal life, this is what I do.

This simple act of reframing your brain acts as an emergency break when something goes wrong.

Your turn: Create one “WHEN…. THEN” phrase that will serve as an emergency break.

What was the acronym again? Think of the delicious…

The idea is to master your emotion and mind. The NBDHE and NDHCE are very difficult. Students should be fully prepared using boards review prep courses, but that is half of the game. As mentioned earlier, even the brightest students failed at the National Dental Hygiene Boards. That means, we have to work on our mindset.

Master your emotion and mind

Practice those 3 steps starting today. The goal is success for the national dental hygiene boards (NBDHE, NDHCE). Believe in yourself!

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If you have any questions, please email me at Clairej@studentrdh.com.

(Disclaimer: StudentRDH is NOT affiliated with the NBDHE, NDHCE, CSCE, CDCA, WREB.)

Written by
Claire Jeong, RDH, MS
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