Taking the Miller Analogies Test is important, but you needn’t let a little last-minute anxiety derail the effort you’ve made preparing for the MAT test. Here are ten tips for fighting any anxiety you have.

Breathe during the MAT test

When people get nervous, they often tense their muscles, which can make it difficult to breathe deeply because the muscles around your rib cage are tight. To combat this tendency, make sure you take the time to breathe during the MAT. After selecting a choice for each question, take a breath. More oxygen will get to your brain and make it easier for you to think clearly.

Take a break during the MAT test

The last thing you may want to do during the MAT is take a break. After all, the test is timed! But if you’re panicking, taking a break may be one of the most helpful things you can do. Close your eyes and take deep breaths for about 15 seconds. This technique can help your anxiety fade and break the cycle if you’re rushing or second-guessing yourself.

Stretch during the MAT test

If you’re anxious during the MAT, it may actually be a physical thing. Try stretching your arms over your head, twisting back and forth, moving your legs — anything to get your body moving and your blood circulating so it can carry oxygen to your brain.

Stop imagining the worst during the MAT test

It’s obviously not a great idea to imagine yourself getting a low score on the MAT while you’re taking it. A good way to get yourself out of your head is as simple as moving your pencil. Write something — anything — down to move your attention from your anxiety to the concrete problem in front of you.

Slow down during the MAT test

One of the main side effects of test-taking anxiety is rushing — and it’s one of the worst things you can do on the MAT. To make matters worse, when you rush, you often know you’re rushing, which can make you even more anxious.

Even if you’re worried about being behind on time, it’s never a good idea to go faster than you’re capable of going, because it will increase the likelihood that you’ll make careless mistakes. Slowing down (by making sure you write down your technique and check every answer choice) can actually reduce anxiety, because it will make you a little bit more confident in your chosen answers.

Skip a weakness during the MAT test

One source of anxiety on the MAT, not surprisingly, is the questions. When a bizarre-looking analogy term or a question type that you know you’re not that good at pops up, it can be frightening.

But just because a question is in front of you doesn’t mean you have to work on it. If you know a certain question is a weakness of yours, especially if you know the difficulty level is high, don’t stress yourself out by working on it.

Skip it and come back to it if you have time, or pick a letter (A, B, C, or D) ahead of time that you’ll use for all your guesses, so you don’t waste time thinking about which letter to choose randomly on questions you’re truly guessing on.

Keep perspective during the MAT test

Anxiety is often the result of a mental focus on something unpleasant that might happen. If you’re feeling anxious or panicky during the MAT, it might help to remember that, while you’re still sitting in that chair, you are the one in control of the test’s outcome.

That’s reality. It’s also reality that your life is a lot more than the MAT and its result, and that reality can help if you’re feeling nervous about the test.

Be goofy during the MAT test

Try calling to mind a joke or funny situation if you’re feeling stressed out during the MAT. The simple act of smiling will also relax your facial muscles, calm you down, and put you in a slightly better mood. Or, make a goofy face at the computer — anything to break the pattern of anxiety and seriousness for a second or two.

Feel what you’re feeling during the MAT test

Have you ever been so stressed out from a traumatic event that you found it difficult to talk or even think? The more deeply you feel, the less clearly you think. The problem is that when many people feel something painful, they tense their muscles to avoid the painful feelings, constricting their breathing and thereby making it harder for their brains to get oxygen.

A way to avoid this is to let yourself feel whatever emotion you’re experiencing during the test. Trying to shut off the emotion will just create more tension. Don’t dwell on the emotion, just let yourself feel it, accept it’s there, then go back to your technique. And definitely don’t waste your energy by yelling at yourself for being nervous.

Use positive self-talk during the MAT test

Most people have little conversations with themselves in their heads — that might sound a little crazy, but it’s true. But problems can arise when your self-talk is negative or gloomy — like anxiety.

Try purposefully thinking positive statements, like “I can do this!” or “I’m doing great so far.” You might not completely believe yourself at the time, but positivity is going to be a lot better for your mental state than negativity. Plus, it will probably actually help you do better. Remember that you’ve prepared for the test and tell yourself that your preparation will pay off — which it certainly will!

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Vince Kotchian is a full-time standardized test tutor specializing in the MAT, SSAT, ISEE, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. He teaches a GRE prep course at the University of California, San Diego, and has an extensive understanding of analogies and the MAT.

Edwin Kotchian is a MAT tutor and freelance writer who has contributed to a variety of test-prep material.

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