What Is Text Anxiety
Test anxiety is a psychological condition in which people experience extreme distress and anxiety in testing situations. While many people experience some degree of stress and anxiety before and during exams, test anxiety can actually impair learning and hurt test performance.
Test anxiety is a type of performance anxiety. In situations where the pressure is on and a good performance counts, people can become so anxious that they are actually unable to do their best.
Other examples of performance anxiety:
- A businessman freezes up and forgets the information he was going topresent to his co-workers and manager during a work presentation.
- A high school basketball player becomes very anxious before a big game. During the game, she is so overwhelmed by this stress that she starts missing even easy shots.
- A violin student becomes extremely nervous before a recital. During the performance, she messes up on several key passages and flubs her solo.
Ready To Start Your Journey
Test anxiety affects nearly 40% of students, according to the American Test Anxieties Association. And MentalHelp.net says college students rank tests as their biggest source of stress even above paying for school or finding a job after graduation. But what is test anxiety, and how can you overcome it?
Test anxiety affects nearly 40% of students, according to the American Test Anxieties Association.
We’ve all felt nervous before an exam. Test anxiety goes beyond just nerves, though, and can negatively impact your performance.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that test anxiety causes physical symptoms like sweating, a pounding heart rate, and faintness. Stress about exams can even trigger a panic attack. Test anxiety also affects your ability to concentrate and focus, posing a major problem for students trying to take exams.
Several factors contribute to test anxiety. For many, a fear of failure drives the anxiety. Whether you had a negative experience on a previous exam or worry about failing a tough class, test anxiety can strike anyone. Learning strategies to manage test anxiety can help you prioritize your mental health and stay calm during midterms, finals, and other important assessments.
Strategies To Reduce Test Anxiety
Prior to an exam, most students experience some degree of anxiety. Feelings of nervousness before a test is to be expected. It is the bodys normal biological and psychological response to stress. However, for some students, anxiety can impact their ability to concentrate and perform successfully on exams. When this occurs, it is important to engage in behaviors and activities that will reduce or eliminate feelings of anxiety and enhance performance on an exam.
What are the symptoms of test anxiety?
The following are strategies to help you reduce test anxiety:
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Right Before The Exam
It is typical to experience some anxiety on the day of a test. This is natural and can help someone stay alert.
While the above strategies can help a person reduce test anxiety in the days or weeks leading up to the test, the following tips may help with test anxiety on the day of the exam.
A person may find the following helpful:
- getting plenty of sleep the night before the test
- bringing water to the exam to stay hydrated
- eating foods that can help with focus
- avoiding excessive caffeine
- gathering all materials necessary before leaving home
- bringing earplugs to the exam to limit distractions
- playing relaxing music beforehand
- trying to reframe an anxious mindset into one of excitement
Remember that performance in one exam does not determine a persons intelligence or self-worth.
What Is Test Anxiety
While its completely normal to feel a bit nervous before a test, some students find test anxiety debilitating. Racing thoughts, inability to concentrate, or feelings of dread can combine with physical symptoms like a fast heartbeat, headache, or nausea. Whether its the ACT, an AP exam, or an important history final, test anxiety has the power to derail weeks and months of hard work.
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Symptoms Of Test Anxiety
Symptoms of test anxiety can be observed in your thoughts, emotions, and body. If youve experienced these symptoms while taking an exam, you may suffer from test anxiety.²
Cognitive Symptoms racing thoughts, self-comparison to others, difficulty concentrating, blanking out, negative thoughts of past performances
Emotional Symptoms fear, anger, feeling helpless, guilt, shame, disappointment
Physical Symptoms nausea, racing heart, excessive sweating, shortness of breath, headache, dizziness, dry mouth, tense muscles
Sometimes people experiencing intense test anxiety are at increased risk of having a panic attack. If youve experienced panic attacks before and are worried about having one during an upcoming test, consider working with a counselor to help you learn to better manage anxiety. If you experience intense panic the day of a test, you can also ask a test examiner if there is an option to have the test canceled. Some standardized examinations allow you to cancel your score, but not all do.
Knowing What To Expect
Good preparation isn’t just about subject revision. It can also help you to know what to expect, which can be an effective way to reduce test anxiety.
- Make sure you know the essential exam details – for example, the times, the format, and the rules regarding what you can and can’t bring in.
- No question is too silly to ask your teacher for example, asking if you can take in water.
- Practise past papers this will get you used to the question styles.
- Practise under exam conditions this will get you used to the expected pace, to the silence, and having no distractions .
- If your school has no mock exams, ask your teacher to set up practice papers under exam conditions.
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What Are The Types Of Medical Test Anxiety
The most common types of medical anxieties are:
- Trypanophobia, the fear of needles. Many people have some fear of needles, but people with trypanophobia have an excessive fear of injections or needles. This fear may stop them from getting needed tests or treatment. It can be especially dangerous to people with chronic medical conditions that need frequent testing or treatment.
- Iatrophobia, the fear of doctors and medical tests. People with iatrophobia may avoid seeing health care providers for routine care or when they have symptoms of illness. But some minor illnesses can turn serious or even deadly if left untreated.
- Claustrophobia, the fear of enclosed spaces. Claustrophobia can affect people in many different ways. You may experience claustrophobia if you are getting an MRI. During an MRI, you are placed inside an enclosed, tube-shaped scanning machine. The space in the scanner is narrow and small.
Use Your Relaxation Techniques
If you start to get anxious during your test, consider using some relaxation techniques you used before the test.
Some gentle deep breathing exercises, grounding techniques, or quietly counting down to ease your mind can relax your body and calm your mind so that you can turn your focus back to your test.
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Develop Healthy Study Techniques
An all-night cram session the night before an exam can leave you feeling anxious and underprepared, as will strolling into class on exam day without having studied at all. By focusing on healthy study techniques, you can build better habits and feel more prepared for tests.
According to PsychCentral, how you approach a study session can make a big difference. Practicing positive self-talk and avoiding catastrophizing is key to reducing test anxiety. Instead of cram sessions, plan ahead and set aside time to study in the days leading up to your exam. Schedule in break times, and make sure you get plenty of fresh air and rest.
Keep Things In Perspective
When taking a test that could have an impact on your future, feelings of exam anxiety might quickly spiral out of control.
You may read a question you cant answer and suddenly feel like the worst student ever. Your thoughts could jump to ever-worsening futures where you flunk the class, drop out of school, and never find it possible to succeed in anything again.
If these thoughts start racing in your head, you may want to put on the brakes. Consider the following:
- Do you know with absolute certainty that missing this single question will ruin your score?
- Or, is failure merely something you fear could happen?
- What if the opposite is true, and this single question wont affect your score much at all?
Challenging your thoughts can keep your worries from consuming you. Once you feel a little calmer, give the question a second pass.
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Finding The Right Pretest Routine
The first thing I discovered was the importance of finding a routine to do before LSAT practice, especially before practice tests. My advice: find an activity that puts you in a perfect frame of mind. Mine was to go running or lift weights, depending on the weather, take a shower, and do LSAT prep while riding the high of post-workout endorphins. Your activity might be something else, and thats fine. Maybe painting puts your mind at ease. Maybe playing the drums provides catharsis for your restless energy. Whatever it is, experiment until you find it. And if your schedule is tight, even a few minutes of the activity will do!
How To Deal With Exam Anxiety
This article was co-authored by Elizabeth Weiss, PsyD. Dr. Elizabeth Weiss is a licensed clinical psychologist in Palo Alto, California. She received her Psy.D. in 2009 at Palo Alto University’s PGSP-Stanford PsyD Consortium. She specializes in trauma, grief, and resilience, and helps people reconnect with their full self after difficult and traumatic experiences.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 13 testimonials and 96% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 281,689 times.
Most people suffer some degree of anxiety when preparing for a test. This can range from a mild nervous feeling to a full panic attack. Whatever your level of anxiety, learning to reduce it is very important to study effectively for a test. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to reduce anxiety, which will benefit your grades and your overall mental health.
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Keep The Test In Perspective
A single test won’t make or break your academic career. Even if a final exam or standardized test feels all-consuming, try to keep it in perspective. Test anxiety fuels negative thoughts, harmful comparisons to others, and feelings of helplessness.
Instead, practice positive self-talk. Remind yourself that the test is not a measure of your worth. These practices can help test-takers arrive on exam day feeling prepared and calm.
Tips For Overcoming Test Anxiety
So, how can you get over test anxiety? Here are some test anxiety tips to help:
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Dos And Don’ts Of Dealing With Test Anxiety
Don’t cram for an exam. The amount you learn won’t be worth the stress.
Don’t think of yourself or the test in a negative sense.
Don’t stay up late studying the night before. You need the sleep. Begin studying a week in advance if possible.
Don’t spend time with classmates who generate stress for you on test day.
Don’t take those last few moments before the test for last minute cramming. Try to relax and spend that time reading the newspaper or some other distraction.
Do remind yourself that the test is only a test.
Do focus on integrating details into main ideas.
Do reward yourself after the test with food or a movie or some other treat.
Do something relaxing the last hour before the test.
Do tell yourself that you will do your best on the test, and that will be enough!
Part 4: Tips for test success
Helpful Realistic Thinking Tips
Tip #1: Coping statements
Try coming up with statements that remind you how you can cope with a situation. For example:
“If I get anxious, I will try some calm breathing.”
“I just need to do my best.”
“People cannot tell when Im feeling anxious.”
“This has happened before and I know how to handle it.”
“My anxiety wont last forever.”
Top #2: Positive self-statements
Regularly practice being kind to yourself , rather than being overly self-critical. For example:
Instead of saying “I will fail,” say something like…
“I know I can do this.”
“Everyone experiences anxiety. I can handle this.”
“Im not a loser if I have trouble with a test. Lots of students struggle with tests.”
“Im strong enough to do this test. I will do my best.”
Tip #3: Alternative balanced statements based on challenging negative thoughts
Once you’ve looked at the evidence or recognized that you’ve fallen into a thinking trap, come up with a more balanced thought based on facts, not feelings. For example:
When you are facing a math test, a more balanced thought could be:
“There is a chance that I will not pass the math test tomorrow. But, not passing a math test does not mean I will fail the entire class. Even if I don’t pass the test, it doesn’t mean I will never graduate from high school. I have passed many school assignments and tests before.”
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Daily Tips For Reducing Test Anxiety
To get your child ready well before test day, here are some things you can do regularly.
1. Focus on the positive.
Start noticing the many things your child is already doing well and tell them. Constant reminders about the consequences of a poor test score on their grades or success arent useful.
2. Reinforce healthy habits.
Encourage good nutrition and sleep habits on a daily basis. Dont reserve them for the day before a test.
How To Deal With Test Anxiety
In the UK, 82% of teachers believe tests and exams have more impact on the mental health of their students than anything else. While feeling anxious before an exam is a normal reaction, high levels of test anxiety can lead to a deterioration in mental health and also negatively affect exam performance. It’s important to find ways to cope with and reduce the pressure.
02-Feb-22·7 mins read
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Dont Let Distractions Derail You
Do all you can to stay focused. Distractions will abound, and suddenly anything seems more interesting than the questions on the sheet. Dont get caught up in reviewing a conversation from earlier that morning or worry about how fast others are going. Keep an eye on the clock to make sure you have time to finish, but dont obsess over it.
Next Steps For Managing Test Anxiety
Sometimes breathing techniques and mindfulness aren’t enough to dispel text anxiety. If anxiety gets in the way of your academic performance or significantly impacts your mental health, you might consider visiting your campus counseling center.
College counselors specialize in helping students work through test-taking anxiety. You can also research test accommodations, including extra time or a quiet room in which to take your exam.
Most college students experience test anxiety at some point in their academic careers. By acknowledging the stress of exams, applying the above tips and strategies, and reaching out for mental health support if needed, you can overcome test anxiety and achieve success.
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Reducing Test Prep Stress