With several different situations in life which are dependent on school performances most students, particularly those that take their education seriously are more concerned about the outcomes of any tests or exams they sit. Students are under lots of pressure to get good grades; pressure from peers, teachers, siblings and parents among others. Some of these pressures can be helpful but too much of it can be devastating resulting in the students experiencing physical traumatic and emotional discomfort associated which are associated with test anxiety.
WHAT IS TEST ANXIETY?
Test anxiety is an unreasonable panic that many students develop when it is time to write a test or an exam. It is a complex problem that happens deep in the brain and can intercept one’s memory and test performance even after test preparation. Test anxiety often occurs among students who are perfectionists, high achievers or those who are excessively focused on their feelings of worry and nervousness rather than concentrating fully on the test.
Being nervous during a test is common but it becomes more problematic when the nervousness has escalated into anxiety. Like other anxiety types the severity of test anxiety ranges from mild to debilitating. Students who suffer from test anxiety are usually develop bad habits around tests including fingernails biting, smoking, picking at their hair, etc.
WHAT CAUSES TEST ANXIETY?
There are several causes of test anxiety. a few of these include:
Lack of Preparation: There is a popular quote that says “proper preparation prevents poor performance”. Procrastinating until the last minute or not even studying at all can undoubtedly bring stress and feelings of anxiety. It is one of the test anxiety causes that can easily be prevented.
Poor Test History: One or two previous failures can set a pattern that is difficult to break. This can cause students to conclude of failure even before sitting the actual test.
Fear of Failure: This is a common issue with many students. Of course, working under pressure can be inspiring for many. On the other hand however it can be very challenging for students who have poor self-esteem and are depending on the result of their tests or exams to evaluate their self-worth.
What Does Test Anxiety Feel Like?
Test anxiety may be difficult to notice at the start since it begins as negative thoughts. These thoughts can be so distracting that you are unable to concentrate thereby causing your anxiety to increase.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF TEST ANXIETY
People react differently to test anxiety. A few of the several common symptoms of text anxiety to look for include:
- Psychological Symptoms. Feelings of fear, anger, helplessness, disappointment, etc.
- Physical Symptoms. These are dizziness, disorientated, restlessness, fidgeting, increased/racing heartbeat, sweaty/cold palms, perspiration, nausea, headache, panic attack and physical shaking among others. Blanking out is another terrible reaction to anxiety. If you have ever walked into a test class and your mind suddenly went blank you will notice that the harder you try to remember the more anxious you become.
Once you exhibit these physical reactions negative thoughts about the test will fill your mind and consequently affect your ability to concentrate or make it difficult for you to understand what you are reading on the test.
IS THERE ANY ADVANTAGE OF TEST ANXIETY?
Of course there is. Being anxious before taking a test can somehow be very helpful. It provides the needed motivation to study and can also show how much you care about your performance.
RESCUE STRATEGIES FOR TEST ANXIETY
Overcoming test anxiety demands lots of work, much more than you would think. One of its requirement is having the necessary tools to reduce stress. In addition outlined below are other ways to reduce test strategies to achieve better results.
- Be Determined. Persistence is very essential in dealing with test anxiety. Acquire more skills and strategies and expect a little relief with these new strategies.
- Self-Affirmation Prior To Taking A Test. Bring as much positive energy and thinking to the test center as it is possible. Affirmatively declare that “I will do better and nothing but better in this test”
- Plan For The Unexpected. It might interest you to know that most tests can be predicted provided you understand the study. Although you may come across a difficulty in the form of a question or topic you don’t understand you need to plan how to handle such cases.
- Take Control Of Your Negative Thoughts. To have and gain control over your feelings it is essential you first gain control over your thoughts. Try as much as possible to blot out all negative thoughts about the test that are interfering and increasing your stress level.
- Focus On Your Competence And Confidence. Rebuilding your confidence is essential to your rescue efforts. As you become more competent in test-taking your confidence level will definitely go up. And this will help you to hold on to the new strategies.
- Breathe Slowly And Deeply. Taking a nice deep breath can give your body a calming effect. You can slow your breathing by listening to slow music but also make sure you breathe more inwardly to effectively reduce your stress. If you can have control over your breathing then definitely you can tell your brain and emotions that you are in control. Once this is achieved you will able to deal with your test anxiety.
- Prepare For The Test. Studying regularly is certainly an amazing way to build your confidence. It is helpful to take as many practice tests as possible to be familiar with how the test will look and feel like. Here your practice results do not matter and should not make you sad. However it will go a long way in increasing your confidence for the real event.
- Be Active And Exercise Regularly. Doing short exercises will help you to be physically and mentally ready for the test. It produces hormones that can help to calm your mind while taking out those aggressions that may be within you. Regular exercise will likewise boost your sleeping patterns so you can get the well needed rest before the test.
- Develop Good Habits. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep and eat balanced, healthy and nutritious meals, these are excellent pre-test habit to develop. These will help you to remain calm, focused and confident.
WHAT YOU CAN DO DURING THE TEST
During your test several things can be done to reduce test anxiety. A few of these include:
- Highlight the difficult questions.
- Answer the simplest questions first and then return to the difficult ones.
- Limit your choices if it is a multiple choice test.
- For questions that require longer answers be sure to properly outline and arrange your thoughts before answering.
- Learn to manage time without being under pressure.
WHAT CAN PSYCHOLOGISTS DO?
Anxiety disorders can be appalling if left unchecked. If you think you are having an anxiety disorder it is recommended to seek advice from an expert psychologist or hypnotherapist. They can help you overcome this disorder and make life less complicated for you.
IS THERE ANY MEDICAL TREATMENT TO TEST ANXIETY?
There are recommended pills you can take to treat test anxiety. These pills can be taken before during or after the test but they should be used with caution. Remember to only take what is prescribed by the physician.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
Test anxiety is something that we all experience at some point in our lives. But just like anyone else, you need to remind yourself that you are not perfect. See tests or exams as something that requires your best and not a “do or die” thing. Be positive and never allow any negative thoughts to dominate your mind. It takes more of practice from you to truly overcome test anxiety. Once you do this, facing any test or exam won’t be difficult anymore.
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