You likely know someone who talks about having anxiety before a test. Maybe you're the person that stresses weeks or days leading up to the exam. I recall over-preparing for tests in college.
Sometimes that's all I would think about was the big test or paper. I would spend countless hours studying and memorizing information for exams.
On the exam day, I would have butterflies in my stomach and pray that I don't fail. You might say this sounds normal and looks like a mild case of test anxiety, or maybe not.
But test anxiety at its extreme can be debilitating. For example, I've worked with high school and college students that reported diarrhea, constipation, and nausea the day before the test or the day of the exam.
Some said their ability to recall information decreased and would draw "blanks" to questions they were prepared to answer.
Can you relate to spending excessive time revising and editing a paper because you think it's not good enough to receive a passing grade? Or what about not getting any sleep the day before an exam because you are worried about passing? Some said doing this made them feel sad and hopeless.
What causes test anxiety?
I can't imagine someone who wants to pass a test telling themselves, "I hope I fail this exam."
Most, if not all, people who have test anxiety want to pass their tests. They want to do well on their exams which would make them feel good about themselves. The anxiety probably motivates the person to study and prepare for exams and shows that they care about their grades.
Wanting to do well likely shows they have high expectations for themselves and want to put their best foot forward in almost everything they do.
Also, they want to avoid the worst-case scenario of failing because failure would mean they don't get into college, they're not as bright as others, or they'll never receive a huge salary later in life. I recall a person telling me that the worrying and hours of preparation were the cost he had to pay to avoid failing - does this sound familiar?
Most importantly, they don't want to let other people down like a school teacher, professor, or parent or disappoint themselves. When you get to the root of the test anxiety, you'll see thoughts going through someone's mind, such as "I'm not smart," "I won't get into my dream school," "I'm going to fail," or they've imagined a big "F" in red ink written on their paper. There are many things you can do to lessen or get rid of the test anxiety.
Lower your expecatations
Do you have to receive an A on each test? Is getting an A or lower that bad?
I would struggle with this one because I'm a hard worker, and if my hard work didn't translate to an A, I would feel disappointed.
Telling myself, "I'm okay with receiving a C on this paper," lowered my anxiety before exams. Receiving a "B" or a "C" may not be what I wanted, but I can live with that because I'm not perfect.
Be kind to yourself.
Can you see how telling yourself, "If I don't pass this test with an A, it means I'm not smart," makes you feel inadequate before taking the exam? or imagining the letter "F" on your paper makes you worry about getting a favorable grade?
Let's try speaking to yourself more positively to improve your feelings about tests and imagining what you want to happen instead of what you don't want to happen.
I often worried about exams and papers, especially the "important ones."
What helped me feel less anxious was distracting myself from thinking about my exams. I'd distract myself with my cell phone, games, TV shows, and exercising. After focusing on other things for about 10 minutes or so I'd continue to study and prep for tests.
Distracting myself gave me the needed break from school, and I got to focus on things I enjoy doing.
Weigh the pros and cons
Ask yourself; what are the advantages and disadvantages of my test anxiety? And name as many advantages and disadvantages as possible.
Some say, "There's nothing positive or beneficial about my test anxiety, " which may be true.
Below the surface, the test anxiety may show you want to excel academically, and that you value hard work, and won't settle for an "average" grade. On the flip side, you feel nauseous on the day of exams, which can be distracting.
After creating the list, ask yourself, "How do I balance the two columns on a scale between 0 and 100?" Both columns must add up to 100.
Is it 50/50? 20/80?
Then ask yourself, "Is it more advantageous to keep the test anxiety or not?"
If the answer is yes, I want to keep my anxiety where it's at, then no need to make changes.
Suppose you see both sides and want to try to keep all of the advantages of the anxiety while reducing the disadvantages. In that case, you are in luck because there are hundreds of coping skills to make you feel more relaxed and confident in taking tests or submitting papers.
Doing a pros and cons list can put the test anxiety in perspective and motivate you to take action to alleviate your symptoms.
These suggestions may appear to be quick tips on how to reduce test anxiety and there's some truth to do that. You may be thinking "I've tried these suggestions and I've read articles on test anxiety and nothing seems to work. "
And if this is true, please do not hesitate to contact me at email@example.com if you have concerns about your mental health and testing strategies.