Anna is a diligent and hardworking Grade 8 student. She never fails to submit all her projects on time, to finish all her homework, and to study for any given exam. You might think Anna is on top of her class, but not really, because she just can’t pass any Math tests she takes. She’s tried a lot of things to resolve this dilemma – going to weekend math tutorials, attending review groups, and even asking her teacher for some
assistance. However, it seems as though nothing really works. Her troubling feelings of overwhelming fear and doubt before, during, and after taking an examination prevails.
Most likely the case of Anna is something very familiar and commonly observed scenario among teenagers. In fact, almost every student, even in college and graduate students, undergo this kind of problem. Professionals term it Test Anxiety, and can often occur during math class.
What is Test Anxiety?
Anxious test takers experience intense nervousness, and nausea causes their mind to go blank. This can lead to low test results, despite exhaustive studying. Some even experience severe panic attacks, diarrhea, feelings of inadequacy, and hopelessness. Symptoms of test anxiety severely reduce the working memory – the part of our brain which holds most of the information used for complex mental tasks such as learning, reasoning, and understanding. Mild to severe cases of test anxiety are undeniably concerning. Not only does it reduce the success rate of students, but high-stress levels due to anxiety weaken the immune system.
Recent studies conducted by the American Test Anxiety Association, show that about 18% of students are distressed by moderately-high test anxiety. While an alarming rate of 22% suffer from high test anxiety. These results continue to rise due to the upsurge of standardize testing and insufficient support or remediation from school authorities.
Statistics, across the globe, estimated that anywhere between 10 to 40 percent of the total student population suffer from anxiety. Additionally, 18% of adults continue to have agonizing anxiety due to pressure and stress. However, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), only one third seek help and treatment. One undermining cause is the perception that anxiety as a phase that everyone can get over through time. Another is the dread of embarrassment and fear of social outcast. Nevertheless, test anxiety is a challenge that must be dealt with.
1. Connect with Others
Ideally, the first thing to do is acknowledge your feelings and reach out for help. Building a connection with understanding and supportive people can really be beneficial. Talk to your family, friends, teachers and school counselors who you feel comfortable with.
2. Become more Knowledgeable
Begin by reading as many references and studies about test anxiety that you can find – focus on the causes. Remember that knowledge is always a great start to fix any dilemma.
3. Participate in Wellness
Participate in programs or activities that promote wellness and relieve stress. This can be creating art, biking, hiking, walking, and meditating. Increase your self-worth by being a part of a healthy environment. Try to know yourself more, concentrate on improving your skills, and utilize your strengths to overcome your weaknesses.
4. Boost your Confidence
Low self-esteem often has a significant association with anxiety. One way to alleviate this is to boost your confidence. Before the examination day, be sure to prepare as much as possible by studying and answering practice quizzes. Manage your time so that you will have plenty of
review periods without compromising sleep. An adequate amount of rest is vital. Eat healthy foods and keep yourself optimistic
5. Recognize Anxiety
During an examination, it is important to recognize when you are feeling anxious and approach it directly. One effective remedy is a breathing exercise; this is done by taking slow, steady deep breaths as you relax your muscles one at a time. Start by inhaling slowly and deeply through your nose, hold it for five to seven seconds, and then release it gradually through your mouth. Repeat this process three to five times a day, before taking a test, so it becomes second-nature during an exam.
6. Slow Down
During the exam, read each question carefully, understand them before answering. Take the test one item at a time, try not to rush. Skip the ones you find difficult, and return later if you have time.
7. Celebrate Success
When you accomplish the test, evaluate your performance not on the grade but on your improved ability to perform. Recognize the strategies you developed and continue seeking ways to relieve your anxiety. Moreover, give yourself a pat in the back for doing something good. Try not to focus on mistakes or being scared to make them. Errors are the best way to learn. Keep in mind that difficulties in life are just obstacles that prompt us to become a better and more productive individual.