AGA Skills Series: Test Anxiety

Student Test Anxiety and How to Cope

Picture this: you have completed all of your assignments and are confident that you have a clear understanding of the subject. Nevertheless, as the test day approaches, test anxiety creeps up! You might feel that you will end up failing the test. Has this ever happened to you? If so, you may experience test anxiety.

What is Test Anxiety?

The American Psychological Association (APA) states that test anxiety is tension and apprehensiveness associated with taking a test. This can result in a decrease in test performance.

According to an informational source from UCLA, research shows that some students may benefit from the adrenaline rush that occurs from the nervous feeling when taking a test. While there is no hard data on the matter, it is estimated that 40-60% of students are negatively affected by test anxiety.

Symptoms of Test Anxiety

There are many reasons for test anxiety. One such reason is performance on tests. In performance on tests, students may exhibit psychological distress. This psychological distress from test anxiety may be a result of the fear of falling behind their peers.

Overall, test anxiety symptoms may look different for each individual, but listed below are some examples that may occur:

  • Emotional symptoms: Test anxiety can manifest in a fear of failure, which can lead to negative thoughts, feelings of stress, and racing thoughts.
  • Physical symptoms: Test anxiety can include panic attacks usually associated with the intense feeling of failure, headaches, nausea, excessive sweating, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, lightheadedness, and feeling faint.
  • Behavioral symptoms: Test anxiety may cause negative thinking, procrastination, trouble concentrating, and the tendency to compare oneself to peers.

Best Strategies to Overcome

Here are some tools you can use that may help:

  • Learn organizational skills and test taking strategies for different types of tests: Focusing on the type of test and strategies that will be involved can help reduce worry about other types of tests that are not pertinent to the current task at hand. For example, if your test will be multiple choice, focus on multiple choice strategies rather than worrying about how to write a great essay response.
  • Establish a routine of where and when to study: Studying gradually over time is considerably more beneficial than cramming everything in at once. Regular practice can reinforce knowledge and confidence, which can reduce worry over performance on a test.
  • Seek out help if needed: Talk to a teacher to make sure that the material for the test is understood, and let them know how you are feeling. The teacher may suggest a tutor or an enrichment program to help reinforce academics being learned at school.

Establishing Routines

Equally important to organizational skills, students can also learn good self management skills. Self management is the set of skills related to taking care of the body through good sleep, diet, and exercise. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are some tools you can use that may help to reduce test anxiety:

  • Practice good nutrition: Drinking plenty of water and having a good meal before a test will help the brain function at its best. Avoid drinks that have too much caffeine, which can cause anxiety and cause blood sugar to rise and then
  • Get exercise: Regular exercise is beneficial, especially on test day because it can reduce tension.
  • Get plenty of rest: A good night’s sleep will help with concentration and reduce.
  • Seek outside help: Have you considered an outside enrichment program for your student? At A Grade Ahead, one month of our curriculum is devoted to preparing for tests. Additionally, we provide a test each month over the topics covered. You may find that regular practice helps your student feel less worrisome when it comes to testing within school.

Does your child experience test anxiety? What tools and tips have you found help with this issue? Let us hear from you in the comments!


Author: Pamela Crum, Teacher at A Grade Ahead, Inc.


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