Taking a test generally induces stress. An exam can be a tension-laden and distressing experience. Considering that it is meant to challenge a student’s mental and cognitive capacity, an exam normally causes strain and pressure.
However, granting that they have prepared well, students can cope with the stress of taking an exam. There are effective ways of preparing for an exam such as engaging in a properly-planned study program. But what about being poorly ready for a test, or harbouring negative thoughts about it?
These situations can lead to test anxiety. What is test anxiety?
Understand The Nature Of The Condition
Have you ever got that feeling wherein your mind freezes at the moment of taking a test? You become besieged by negative thoughts, saying to yourself “I can’t do this”. Your heart races so fast and you are bothered by breathing difficulties.
Many students feel anxious during a test, but according to research, there are those who are more inclined to suffer from test anxiety than others. If you happen to be part of these statistics, what can you do to prevent test anxiety?
To be able to know how to cope with exam anxiety, you primarily should understand what this condition is. What is exam anxiety?
This condition happens when you feel an intense degree of panic or fear before or when actually taking a test. What are the two types of test anxiety?
Low anxiety: this is when you feel slightly nervous about an upcoming exam. Your symptoms are not that predominant and you are still able to concentrate on your studies. Despite being jittery, you can comprehend the questions. Students suffering from low test anxiety are not debilitated during an exam nor are they troubled by intrusive thoughts of failing.
High anxiety: this condition happens when a student experiences excessive anxiety during an exam situation. Because of intense fear, they might even decide to not show up to take their exam. Or if they actually tackle it, they might do so with extreme dread. Tipping into a severe panic, they think or say to themselves that “No, I really can’t do this”!
Physical Symptoms To Watch Out For
The physical symptoms of high anxiety include rapid heartbeat, shortness of or fast breathing, sweaty or clammy hands and feeling queasy, among others. High test anxiety might even trigger the “fight or flight response” in which the body responds to a perceived threat.
It has been indicated in research that high levels of test anxiety can lead to a decline in performance. High anxiety students tend to equate taking an exam with a threatening situation and thus respond to it with intense emotional reactions. This makes it complicated for them to concentrate on their testing experience.
So how do you cope with high exam anxiety? How can you calm or pacify your nerves when taking an exam?
The first thing that you have to do is to identify the condition in yourself. You initially have to be aware that you are suffering from high test anxiety. Then you need to learn ways of managing this bothersome condition so that it does not affect your performance.
Different Coping Strategies To Overcome Test Anxiety
For one thing and several others, you can implement self-care strategies before taking your tests, such as by providing yourself with sufficient sleep, rest, nutrition and exercise. You would also need to engage in various relaxation measures. These are small steps that you shouldn’t neglect because they can significantly help in alleviating your exam anxiety.
Exam anxiety is a salient concern in schools. That’s why they have designated psychologists and well-being teams to facilitate in assisting students to overcome the condition. They have implemented programs to help anxious students become more comfortable and competent in handling exams. These professionals introduce techniques so that students can understand the nature of their anxious behaviour and how they can effectually cope with or overcome it.
Among these techniques is mindfulness wherein an individual is taught to place their thoughts on the present moment as they calmly recognize and accept their anxious thoughts, feelings and physical reactions. Another strategy that can complement mindfulness is systematic desensitization where one is taught to visualize a scene while they are completely relaxed. This scenery then invokes feelings that might come about as if the real scenario is taking place. The idea of this is to allow the students to feel their anxiety while visualizing the exam scenario and teach them to overcome these distressing feelings.
If you are stricken by high exam anxiety to the point that you are incapacitated or evade your tests, you can access support and special consideration from your school. These vary according to individual needs but may entail taking the exam in a separate room, having more breaks or being allocated with more time to finish their task.
Get in touch with your school psychologist or well-being team to avail of such special considerations and other support so that you can be provided with an individualized plan to help you get through during the exam season.
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