Students often feel a great deal of pressure to perform. They want to excel personally. They want to make their parents proud. They might even be trying to impress friends. Whatever the case, if the pressure is turned up a notch, test anxiety might result.
Test anxiety is generally considered a very normal occurrence. Almost anyone who has ever taken tests can recall at least one instance where fear of failure led to incredible cram sessions, incessant rewriting of notes and even a complete “blanking” out on knowing the answers. In most cases test anxiety is very normal and fairly easy to overcome. In some instances, however, test anxiety is the manifestation of an actual anxiety disorder.
“Normal” test anxiety can present with symptoms such as sweaty palms, an overall sense of malaise and a fear of not performing well. In most cases, students can overcome the problems by taking a few measures before a test. Some techniques for overcoming normal test anxiety include:
• Pacing study rather than cramming
• Taking practice exams
• Deep breathing prior to an exam
• Self-affirmations prior to a test
• Obtaining extra tutoring before a big exam, if problems are present with the material. A little extra boost of help can go a long way toward alleviating fears.
• Talking out fears with friends or family
Unfortunately, for some students test anxiety does go beyond the norm. If the symptoms are also accompanied by extreme fear, heart palpitations, physical pain, insomnia and other such signs, a more serious anxiety disorder could be present. This is especially the case if symptoms appear in other circumstances or they repeatedly present prior to tests. In many cases, the relaxation techniques for normal test anxiety will not have a major impact on a person who is suffering from full-blown anxiety disorder.
If an actual anxiety disorder is suspected, it is smart for a person to seek medical advice. There are treatments available to help people overcome the symptoms and lead lives free of abnormal anxiety and panic. Should the anxiety disorder go beyond just test anxiety, it is typically imperative for a person to seek help. Anxiety disorders can completely waylay lives if they are left unchecked.
Test anxiety is a fairly normal occurrence. Almost everyone experiences it at some point in life. If the problem is particularly severe, persists or its symptoms begin to show up in other performance-based or social situations, help is worth seeking out. There is no reason for a person with test anxiety or any other form of anxiety that is severe to go it alone.