Managing Test Anxiety
It is normal to feel a bit worried about exams, especially if you’re under pressure from school or family. Test anxiety can cause you to feel anxious or depressed, and this might affect your sleeping or eating habits.
Don’t forget that if you’re feeling overwhelmed – whether due to academic pressure or stress in another part of your life – you don’t have to be alone.
Symptoms of test anxiety
Test anxiety might look different from student to student, but the following is a list of possible symptoms you might experience:
Headache, excessive sweating, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, lightheadedness, nausea, etc.. Test anxiety can also cause panic attacks, which are the abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort in which you may feel like you are unable to breathe or like you are having a heart attack.
Feelings of stress, fear, helplessness, and disappointment, negative thoughts (rumination about past poor performances, consequences of failure, feeling inadequate, helpless), mind going blank, and racing thoughts.
Difficulty concentrating, thinking negatively, comparing yourself to others, and procrastinating.
Essential Tips for Test Anxiety
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.
Learn relaxation techniques.
To help you stay calm and confident right before and during the test, practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, relaxing your muscles one at a time, or closing your eyes and let yourself imagine a positive outcome.
Remind yourself of past successes.
It’s easy to lose perspective when you find that you are no longer the top student in the class. Intellectually, you understand that you’re competing against many other bright students, but you may need to remind yourself of that. As well as, bring to mind your past successes on exams and remind yourself that the admissions officers know what they’re doing and they have “bet” on your success.
Get plenty of sleep.
Sleep is directly related to academic performance. Preteens and teenagers especially need to get regular, solid sleep. But adults need a good night’s sleep, too, for optimal work performance.
Don’t give a test the power to define you.
An exam won’t tell you whether you’re the most brilliant (or least brilliant) student in your class. Your performance on an exam mostly depends on how effectively you studied for the test, the quality of your prior education, and the test-taking strategies you use.
See a professional counselor, if necessary.
Talk therapy (psychotherapy) with a psychologist can help you work through feelings, thoughts and behaviors that cause or worsen anxiety. Talk to Dr. Carla, a mental health professional, if you face stress and anxiety during exams.