Test Anxiety is defined as, “The fear of failing that you feel before or while taking an important examination, such as the SAT, that prevents you from performing as well as you otherwise could on an exam” (Your Dictionary). And although a little bit of anxiety can be good for keeping you alert and focused, it’s definitely not ideal when it comes to taking a test.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, some physical symptoms of test anxiety that can occur are sweating, nausea, stomach pain, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, and panic attacks. On the other hand, students can have emotional/mental symptoms as well. These include self-doubt, fear, extreme stress, inadequacy, anger, bad memory, and loss of concentration.
A statistic from the American Test Anxieties Association shows that students who have high test anxiety perform about half a letter grade below their other peers. For example, a student with low anxiety might get a B, while the student with test anxiety would get a B-. These two students could have studied the same amount of time, done all their homework, and prepared as much as they could for their test, and still get two different scores.
Not only does this have a negative effect on a student’s grade, but it also can affect their health. According to a survey done by Childline, an overwhelming amount of students said that they used drugs, alcohol, and self-harm to cope with test anxiety. Along with that, 96% of the 1,300 who did the survey said that they had test anxiety(Mental Healthy).
But just like every other type of anxiety, there are strategies to help deal with it. Remember that you are not alone! Many people have test anxiety, and it is preventable. Remind yourself that you can always retake a test if you don’t like your score. Get enough sleep. It’s important to let your body take some time to relax. There are also specific foods that can help you relax. Some of them are spinach, milk, wheat bread, bananas, and citrus fruits. Avoid eating junk food, as they can lead to what’s known as, “an energy crash.”
While you’re taking the test, make sure to read the directions carefully so you know exactly what is expected on the test. Avoid looking at the clock, it will only distract you and make you more worried. Skip questions you don’t know. Finally, give yourself a minute to breathe if you start to feel more anxious. The number one way of calming down is to take deep breaths in and out(Cal Poly Student Academic Services).
After your test, try to forget about it. Take some time out of your day to relax. Do things like, buy something nice for yourself, take a bath, hang out with friends, or watch your favorite movie. Do something to make you feel good inside.
Remember that tests don’t define you. They check what you’ve learned, and see how you’ve progressed. If you don’t like your score, you can always retake the assessment. A test does not define you, and the only way to get better at taking tests is with practice. You have the strength to get better, so never stop pushing yourself.