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      Resources, news and fun for NHA certification candidates and alumni.

      How to stress less on test day

      You’ve studied and prepared as much as you could. Your ready to start your healthcare career. Now the day has arrived — it’s time to take your NHA certification exam.

      Nerves might start to creep in. Your palms start to sweat and little butterflies form in your belly as anxiety takes residence in your mind.


      We know that’s easier said than done. But relaxing won’t only help your mental and emotional well being - it could also help you perform better on the test.

      “When students are anxious, their worries use up some of their working memory, leaving fewer cognitive resources to devote to the test,”
      Sian Beilock, cognitive scientist at the University of Chicago (source).

      Here are four tactics to help you eliminate some stress on the day of your NHA exam so you can feel better and perhaps even do better.

      Sweat it off

      Woman jogging on a city sidewalk

      Get moving, whether you blast out 50 burpees or take an easy walk around the block, moving your body could help calm your nerves before the big test. In fact, even just five minutes of exercise can help reduce anxiety (source).

      Eat a good meal

      Buttered toast on a plate next to an avocado and jar of salsa

      They say you are what you eat. So if you want to be smart, eat smart! Having a nutritious meal will give you energy, stamina and brain power to help you during your exam. Try a superfood like avocado, which is great for brain health and anxiety thanks to its potassium, B vitamins and monounsaturated fats. 

      Please note that eating or drinking in the examination room for your NHA test is not allowed unless deemed necessary for medical reasons, so plan accordingly.

      Try this three-minute breathing exercise

      More and more people are experiencing the benefits of mindfulness. One breathing exercise in particular can help ease test-taking anxiety. It’s called abdominal breathing and just three minutes could make a big difference. Here’s how it’s done:

      • Rest your left hand on your chest and your right hand on your belly
      • Take a deep breath in through your nose, feeling your belly rise as it fills with air
      • Once your belly is completely expanded with breath, sigh it out through your mouth
      • Continue this slow breath for a few minutes You can learn more about this method here.

      Write it out

      Close up of woman's hands writing in a notebook

      In a recent study published in the Science journal, a group of students spent 10 minutes journaling about their thoughts and feelings immediately before taking a test. The students’ test scores “significantly improved,” indicating that expressing yourself in writing can help you release some of that test-taking anxiety.

      Give one or more of these techniques a go and try to give yourself some compassion. Whether you’ve been studying and using our study preparation materials for months or days, it doesn’t matter on exam day because you can’t go back in time and prepare more than you already have. A little bit of nerves is normal! Just try not to let it overwhelm you. You’ve got this. 

      For information about NHA exams, including requirements, rules of conduct, information about retaking the exam and more, visit our website at

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      Topics: exams, study tips, allied health careers