Managing Anxiety/OCD at School

Being a student with OCD/anxiety can be challenging at times, including in specific situations like being in class, preparing for and taking tests, and completing work at home.

Read on for some tips and tricks to help you manage your OCD/anxiety at school!

Tips for Being in Class

Test Anxiety

It is important to note that having some anxiety about taking tests is a good thing. A short term, manageable level of anxiety motivates you to prepare and work as hard as you can. However, research suggests long-term, consistent levels of high anxiety is debilitating and hurts your academic performance and mental health. This is because your brain views these high levels of anxiety as a threat and reacts in unhelpful ways when preparing for and taking a test.

This section will outline tips for how to manage your anxiety before and during a test.

Before the Test

During the Test

Have a Test-taking Plan

When you are feeling anxious, it is hard to think and process information. For this reason, it is important to have a well thought-out plan for how to approach your test ahead of time so that rushing, poor time management, and self-doubt don’t sabotage your hard work!

Effective test-taking strategies can include:

  • Reading directions thoroughly before beginning 
  • Not spending too much time on any one question
  • Moving on from a question if you don’t know the answer
  • Picking an answer and sticking with it
  • Planning on not knowing some of the material 
  • Answering the easy questions first
Use Calming Techniques
Breathe Mindfully
Ground Yourself

It is important to follow your therapist’s advice while in school and if a school psychologist or counselor is available, do not be afraid to reach out to them for additional support and help.


Students with test anxiety might qualify for “accommodations” via an IEP/504 Plan in public schools and through the Disability Office in higher education. Please note that depending on your school, these accommodations may not be possible with an IEP/504 plan. Learn more about your rights in the school setting.

Common accommodations can include:  

  • The ability to take tests in a low-distraction environment
  • Test alternatives, like writing an essay, giving a presentation, or creating an art project 
  • Breaks during testing 
  • Different test format
  • Extra time on tests

Learn more about accommodations.

Our Work Young Person with anxiety jumping over a ball
Our Work Young people with OCD helping each other
Our Work Teacher looking up info on OCD