Are you someone who does well at tests? If you do, good for you. Does this mean that you had trouble with them at first? Maybe you did and if you did, then you must have found some way to overcome the anxiety that can come when taking a test. Now if your someone who struggles with taking tests and gets stressed out about them, well you’re not alone. I personally have dealt with test anxiety ever since grade school.
What is Test Anxiety?
Test anxiety is when you get stressed and anxious about an upcoming exam or quiz. You are very concerned and worried about how you will do on it. The big thing on your mind is whether if you’ll pass or fail. Test anxiety can cause you to have trouble concentrating and not think clearly. You can second guess yourself over and over not knowing what answer is the right one. You may begin to sweat, your heart beats faster, you get butterflies in your stomach, you experience lightheadedness, possible nausea, even headaches. There are even emotional symptoms one can get from test anxiety. You can experience anger, depression, distress, low self-esteem, and hopelessness all as a result of the high amount of anxiety your experiencing.
Test Anxiety: Am I Born With It?
The short answer to that is no, but let’s dive deeper into why that is. Test anxiety comes about from different things. Test anxiety is connected to not just a grade, but your self-esteem. If you have low self-esteem, you may think over and over that you’ll not do well on a test and get a failing grade. Test anxiety can come from the fear of being alone and being alienated by friends, parents, peers because of bad grades. Test anxiety also comes about from not having all the control. What I mean by that is we that can’t control what questions will be on the test and therefore we don’t know precisely what to study for which can cause us to stress out. We may also be afraid of a teacher calling us out in front of the class about how bad we did on the test.
If you do struggle with test anxiety, here are some ways to overcome it so that it doesn’t mess with your mind:
1. Eat a Good Meal
Eating a good healthy meal before taking a test will give you the right kind of energy to take the test. Even though most exams require you to sit down and move your arm to write answers or click on an answer on a computer screen, your body is still using a good amount of energy. I’m talking about mental energy which comes from whatever you ate, drank, and got from sleep the night before just like physical energy. For example, if you have a test in the morning, don’t skip breakfast. Eat something that will fill you up. The food will give you the energy to help you focus better and remember what it was that you studied. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods like granola bars, oatmeal and muffins can be helpful. Experiment and find what healthy foods help you do better on tests.
2. Get a Good Night Sleep the Night Before
This is something that we have heard before by our parents, sometimes teachers, and friends. Getting a good night sleep in general helps your body to better fight off unwanted stress and decrease anxiety levels. If you try to cram everything in the night before, you can overwhelm yourself and it can increase your anxiety. You can better handle and tolerate unwanted things and people that cause you stress. When you study, I have found that getting a good night’s sleep helps your brain absorb the knowledge and store it away. Therefore, since taking a test can cause your anxiety levels to go up, getting a good night’s sleep should help decrease it. You can wake up more refreshed which can increase your confidence.
3. Study with Friends and Family
What can help lower your test anxiety is studying with others who may be taking the same test. This way, your classmates can help you and maybe you can help them. If this isn’t an option, don’t sweat it. Ask your parents to help or even your siblings (if you have them). They can quiz you and maybe help you learn new ways to study. A tutor is also an option. Schools and colleges have them. Don’t be scared to seek them out. Also don’t be afraid to ask your teacher or professor for help. Most of them want you to succeed.
4. Arrive Early and Relax
The one thing we make the mistake of doing is rushing so were not late to take the test. I’m guilty of this and a whole lot of people are. Try arriving early and relax. Take some deep breaths. If waiting is stressing you out, distract yourself. Read something, play a game on your phone (if phones are aloud in the room), to keep your mind occupied. If there are other people who look anxious, if you can, don’t sit next to them and try to not be around them. Seeing them can make you even more anxious and you don’t want that.
5. Talk Positive
Before the test is handed to you, you may be thinking ‘I’m not going to do well’ or ‘I didn’t study enough’. This kind of talk can make you feel bad about yourself and hurt your confidence. Your anxiety levels go up and you can psych yourself out even before the test begins. Say positive things to yourself about the situation like ‘I’m prepared for this’, ‘If I fail, my life won’t end’, ‘I’m not a stupid person’. Saying these things can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem. Don’t fall victim to the downward spiral of negative thinking.
Final Thoughts and Sum Up
Test anxiety has gotten me because I let those negative thoughts get to me. People fall victim to it, but hopefully this post has helped you realize that one, your not alone in experiencing test anxiety and second, that there are ways to eliminate it. Try to visualize yourself succeeding on the test. Afterwards, treat yourself to something nice regardless if you passed or failed. This will help you get your mind off of the test and relax and study for the next one (if you have another one lined up).