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Test-Taking Tip: Anger--Powerful Emotion, Powerful Distraction

Dough Zone We've all heard that we should never go to bed angry with a loved one. Here's a new twist to this sage advice: never go into an exam angry. Not surprisingly, the physical changes associated with anger (elevated blood pressure, increased heart rate, etc.) interfere with your ability to think clearly. Even if the symptoms of pure anger have faded, the anxiety or irritation that lingers from an unresolved conflict can be very disruptive to your concentration.

So, what can you do to avoid finding yourself in an angry or overwrought state on exam day? We'll focus on two quick, short-term ways to keep your emotions at bay: temporary avoidance and deliberate relaxation.

Temporary avoidance means that you delay dealing with something that you know is going to press your buttons. Have you and your spouse been arguing about who walks the dog every night? Decide that from now until exam day, you'll do it. Promise yourself that you'll discuss dividing up the responsibility later, after you've taken your exam. If angry feelings bubble up as you get Fido's leash out of the closet, remind yourself that it's a temporary solution—a stopgap measure to make life easier until you have the mental energy to deal with the argument head-on.

But what if you've already had that huge argument and it's too late for the avoidance technique? Deliberate relaxation can help. This technique requires some mental discipline, because you must refuse to give in to your negative feelings. The three main steps are:

  • Breathe deeply from your diaphragm (breathing from your chest doesn't decrease tension).
  • Repeat a calming phrase or mantra, one that resonates for you personally (something like "I won't let my short-term anger ruin my long-term success.")
  • Try a slight attitude adjustment. Once you've calmed down physically, take a mental step back and recognize that in the grand scheme of things, what you're angry about now just isn't that important.

Remember that strong emotions are temporary. Your test results, on the other hand, will stick with you. If anger issues bother you frequently, here are more techniques that can help you. If your anger issues seem overwhelming, it may be time to seek counseling. Ask your family doctor or other health care provider for a referral.

Preparing for your exam should include positive mental habits as well as good study habits! Rockwell Institute is always here to answer your questions about taking the real estate exam.