What is Test Anxiety?
The biological components are hormonal and chemical changes in the body. This causes many physical symptoms such as nausea and rapid heartbeat. The common behavioral response is avoidance.
- Procrastination for many is part of the avoidance. Then you cram for a test. The human brain cannot handle that much information at one time and can lead to feeling overwhelmed. This can create even more anxiety and a vicious cycle develops.
Ex: “My test is not until Friday so I have plenty of time to study… Oh, no my test is tomorrow, I only have 30 minutes to study.”
What can I do about Test Anxiety?
Most students will feel a certain amount of stress when having to take a test. After all, tests can have a major impact on your grade. The good news is test taking is a skill that can be learned. The best ways to learn this skill is through preparation, visualizing success, and belief in oneself. Compare it to learning a sport like basketball. You have to practice dribbling, passing, offense, defense, etc… on a daily basis until you master each skill set and then you keep working on it so you can continue to improve. You are teaching your body muscle memory. Your mind works the same way, and by doing your homework daily, reviewing your notes, etc… you are strengthening your brain capacity. Many professional athletes have talked about how they visualize scoring or making a key defensive play to win a game. Visualization is a positive tool to help you. Would you go into a game without knowing what you were doing? Would you go into a test without knowing what you were doing?
- Don’t procrastinate, waiting till the last minute and cramming is only going to add to your stress. Start studying days in advance or even a week in advance. Find out what works for you, eg. flash cards, taking notes of the chapter, or visual aids. Quiz yourself!! This will show you what you do know and what you don’t know, giving you confidence going into the test.
Ex: “ I have studied every day for 30 minutes and I after quizzing myself today I know all but one question. I will review it again and quiz myself. I feel really good about it.
- Pay attention in class and take good notes. Many times the teacher will give you hints about what will be on the test and will often repeat the information that is important. Talk to your teacher if you have questions or want to know what kind of test you are taking and what you should study the most.
Ex: “My teacher kept saying something about the 5 most important facts for studying. I don’t have those in my notes and can’t find it in the book. I better go in before school and ask him what those facts are because I know that will be on the test.”
- The day of the test, read the directions carefully, skip questions that you are not sure about because there may be other questions that give you a clue or you may remember more information, as you get further along in the test. Don’t worry when others finish the test. It is not a race. It is about doing your best and you will have plenty of time.
Ex: “Oh man, Jim just turned in his test and I am only half-way done. I am going at a good pace and I know all of the answers, so I am good, I just need to stay focused.”