Many students experience anxiety ahead of taking an exam or test. Students commonly experience nervousness as a normal response to such assessments; it is a signal to prepare so that you will feel confident and so that you can keep any associated stress in check. But when nervousness about taking tests becomes extreme and starts to interfere with test performance, it might have turned into true test anxiety.
WHAT IS TEST ANXIETY?
Test anxiety is a type of performance anxiety. It’s important to understand that test anxiety can manifest in both physical and mental ways—you might experience physical, emotional, and cognitive symptoms. There might be physical impacts from common symptoms such as excessive sweating, nausea and stomach pain, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, headaches, feeling faint, and others. Impacts to your mental health often show up as fretful anticipation and worry about the test, with psycho-emotional symptoms of test anxiety often including feelings of self-doubt, fear, inadequacy, anger, and more. Other common symptoms that disrupt cognitive performance during tests include difficulty concentrating, forgetting information/mind-blanking, and racing thoughts. Sometimes students with extreme test anxiety might even suffer panic attacks.
CAUSES OF TEST ANXIETY
All anxiety is a reaction to anticipating something stressful. Like other anxiety reactions, test anxiety affects the body and the mind. There are many different possible causes of test anxiety including a fear of failure, perfectionism, the pressure to achieve a specific grade (e.g., to pass the class), and a history of poor test performance. One of the most common causes of test anxiety, however, is simply not feeling prepared to take a test.
ADDRESSING YOUR TEST ANXIETY
Test anxiety can become an enduring problem if not addressed early and often, especially for students with tendencies towards such anxiety. Students who experience test anxiety should attempt to address it so that it doesn’t negatively impact their test performance in the long-term, and so it doesn’t cause mental health issues by affecting their self-confidence or self-esteem. There are many methods and techniques that can help you deal with test anxiety. A key step to take is getting help to overcome the symptoms of your anxiety. Professional tutors can help, especially at a student’s earliest recognition that test anxiety might be developing into a problem. If your anxiety is particularly severe, you might find it helpful to reach out to a licensed counselor or therapist or other health and wellness professionals for assistance.
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