Test anxiety can be quite nerve racking, to the point where your anxiety becomes so great that it affects your performance and preparation for tests. Test anxiety can progress to the point where you either avoid the test altogether, or you end up sitting for the test, only to find that you can’t complete it.
If you have test anxiety, then you may have the following symptoms during an exam:
Mind going “blank”
Anxiety can inhibit your ability to think, to remember, to retrieve information.
You can get quite irritable, and the stress of not being able to perform feels like the room is closing in on you.
Negative self talk
You may be thinking “I’m too stupid” or “I’m going to fail.”
You might feel your heart racing and pounding. You might even have shortness of breath, nausea, or “butterflies” in the stomach.
If you have the above symptoms on a test, and you also know the answers after the test has ended and score better marks on homework, then you most likely have test anxiety. Test anxiety is a type of performance anxiety, which in turn is a type of social anxiety disorder (also known as social phobia). The hallmark of test anxiety is the lack of performance on tests due to excessive nervousness, and you are unable to retrieve your knowledge and write the exam due to the anxiety.
Change your Negative Self-Talk
One tip for dealing with test anxiety is changing your negative self talk. Although the testing situation is anxiety-provoking, you have anxiety because of your thoughts about the test, not because the test itself causes anxiety. Let’s look at an example below, where you are taking a test in Science class. If you are thinking “I’m stupid” or “I will fail,” you will be nervous and anxious. But if you think to yourself “I will pass as I have studied,” then you will feel calm.
Another tip to dealing with test anxiety is to institute relaxation techniques to reduce your overall anxiety. Relaxation techniques include:
Meditative breathing can help to soothe you, keeping a calm state of mind.
Right before the test, while sitting in your chair to take the test, you can do muscle relaxation with each muscle group to relieve tension built up from the anxiety.
Although this obviously can’t be practiced during the test, yoga and other mind-body exercises such as tai chi can help to reduce your overall anxiety levels.
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