By Anisa Choudhury & Chelsea Rahiman
While taking a test have you ever felt angry, helpless, had shortness of breath or sensed your heart was beating faster than normal? These are some symptoms of test anxiety.
Don’t worry, you’re not the only one.
The American Test Anxieties Association found that almost 20% of us have severe test anxiety and 18% of students have moderately high test anxiety. That’s close to 10 million children in North America — and due to the increasing focus on standardized testing this number continues to increase. But because this anxiety occurs so frequently, most students don’t even realize they have test anxiety and consider it to be normal.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America found three causes of test anxiety: a fear of failure, poor test history, and lack of preparation. Without being treated or controlled, test anxiety can lead to depression, low self-esteem, insomnia, and suicidal tendencies.
Here are some ways to deal with your test anxiety
- Be Prepared– Studying should begin several nights before the test. If you push studying off and cram the information last minute, you’re likely to feel under-prepared, tired and stressed. Before the test, it’s a good idea to stimulate the test environment and take a mock test so that you can manage your nerves; when it’s time for the actual test you’ve already experienced the testing conditions.
- Focus On Yourself– During the test, work at a pace that you feel most comfortable with, don’t worry about the pace of other students. You have to stay confident because you have to make yourself believe that you have studied well and understand the material.
- Don’t Panic– If you arrive at a question that you are unsure of, breathe and move on to simpler questions. This will give you some time to calm down and extra time to think about how to approach the question later. Also, if you are unsure of the wording of a question don’t blame yourself, ask your teacher.
- Relax– Before the test, take a second to relax your muscles. Engaging in aerobic exercises will aid in releasing excess energy. During the test if you feel stressed take a deep breath to help you calm your nerves.
- Be Healthy– Being emotionally or physically drained will not do any good for you under stressful testing situations. Before a test it’s best to exercise, get a good night’s sleep, and eat healthy.
- Have Personal Time– Have designated times to unwind and focus on something other than tests or school. This will distract you from the anxiety of the test and give you time to clear your mind. By not thinking about the test too much, you will be able to relieve the stress.