With several different situations in life depending on school performances, most students, particularly those that take their education seriously are more concerned about the outcome of any tests or exams they sat for. They are under lots of pressure to get good grades – pressure from peers, teachers, siblings, and parents among others. Some of these pressure can be helpful, too much of it can be devastating, making the students experience the traumatic physical and emotional discomfort 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 is more problematic when the nervousness has to become an anxiety. Like other anxiety types, the severity of test anxiety ranges from mild to debilitating. Students who suffer from test anxiety are usually known to 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 make the students to even conclude of failing even before sitting for the 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, 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 watch out for include:
- Psychological Symptoms –Feelings fear, anger, helplessness, disappointment etc
- Physical symptoms –Dizziness, disorientated, restlessness and fidgeting, heartbeat racing, sweaty/cold palms, perspiration, nausea, headache, panic attack and physically 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 than you would think. It requires you to have the necessary tools to reduce stress. In addition to that, outlined below are other ways to reduce test strategies and achieve better results.
- Be determined.Persistence is very essential in dealing with test anxiety. Acquire more skills and strategy and expect a little relief from the new strategies.
- Self-affirmation prior to test taking.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 on how to handle such cases.
- Take control of your negative thoughts.To have control over your feelings, it is essential you first gain control over your thoughts. Try as much as possible to prevent all negative thoughts about the test that are interfering and increasing your stress.
- 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 make sure you breathe more inwardly to effectively reduce your stress. If you can have control over your breathing, 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 like. Here, your practice result does 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 you may have within you. Regular exercise will likewise boost your sleeping patterns so you can get the needed rest before the test.
- Develop a good habit. Make sure you have a good night’s sleep, the right nutrition, and a pre-test habit. This helps you to remain calm, focused and confident.
WHAT YOU CAN DO DURING THE TEST
While you are having your test, several things can be done to reduce test anxiety. A few of these include:
- Mark out 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 you seek advice from an expert psychologist or hypnotherapist. They will help you to 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 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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