Part of going to school is taking tests, and you may be one of many students who experience intense test anxiety. This performance anxiety comes primarily from linking our self-worth to our grades. We might worry what our family members and friends will think of us if we do poorly.
Some students breeze into class, take exams without fear, and earn consistently good grades. These people can be very annoying because they do easily what you struggle with. You may think they are smarter than you are.
It is possible that a few of these students are smarter, but many of them are in your ballpark, or not as smart. The great test-takers are different because they have not acquired the habit of anxiety while taking tests. There is nothing wrong with you. Even exam-acers have areas of anxiety in their lives; it just doesn’t show up at test time.
Test tension can also come from working against the clock and fearing you will not finish the test. Grades posted next to names, where other students can easily see them, can provoke anxiety. Being in a class that is beyond your current ability is another common cause of anxiety.
Six Facts About Test Anxiety
- Lowering your test anxiety will not necessarily raise your grades.
- Students with test anxiety cannot relax simply by telling themselves to.
- Highly intelligent people can experience test anxiety.
- Test anxiety does not indicate you have an anxiety disorder.
- Students who are well-prepared for exams can have test anxiety.
- Test anxiety can be reduced.
Finishing First or Last
Maybe you take exams quickly so you can flee the situation. Maybe you answer in haste so that you’re not the the last student to finish. Either way, you are shortchanging yourself.
It is not true that smart people always finish tests first, or early. Some excellent test-takers use the entire allotted time to make sure they’ve done their best, while others may work quickly and not stay to review their answers. The point is, how long you work on an exam has nothing to do with your potential or intelligence.
Reducing the Anxiety
To relieve your anxiety, learn a relaxation technique that you are comfortable using. It could be a deep breathing exercise, muscle relaxation, or mindfulness meditation. What matters is that it helps you. If your anxiety is primarily something felt in your body, muscle relaxation and deep breathing are good choices. If the anxiety seems largely in your head, some type of meditation may be more helpful.
Because our feelings follow our thoughts, thinking negatively of yourself can cause anxiety. Although it may seem forced, try exchanging your negative thoughts for more positive ones. For example, if you usually think, “No matter how hard I study, I never do well on tests,” try something like, “I studied hard for this test and I will do my best.”
Here are a few more tips given by one of those annoying people that takes tests well:
- Pay attention to no one else in the room. It is unimportant whether they are done sooner or later than you. If they are on page two, and you are on page one, quit looking that person, and get back to your own test.
- Nothing exists but the test; read each question twice and read all the answers; mark your choice.
- If you absolutely do not know the answer to a question, put a mark by it and move on; others questions in the test might trigger your memory.
- After reaching the end, go back and answer the questions you marked. If you still have no idea, guess and move on.
- Then, if there is still time, you can look over your answers to make sure you read the questions right; but if you are someone constantly second guessing yourself, it might be better just to turn the exam in.
- Now, forget about the test; put it out of your mind until the grades are posted.
If your test anxiety is unmanageable, talk to a school counselor, or consider seeing a therapist.