Test Anxiety

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Test Anxiety

What is Test Anxiety?

  • Test anxiety is defined as a state of uneasiness and distress before and during a test that often lowers performance.

Test Anxiety is NOT

  • caused by not studying, not studying effectively or not being prepared.

Symptoms of Test Anxiety

  • Physical symptoms can include:
    • Sweating
    • Shaking
    • Rapid heart beat
    • Dry mouth
    • Fainting
    • Nausea
    • “Butterflies" in the stomach
    • Physical illness

Symptoms of Test Anxiety

  • Cognitive and behavioral symptoms can include:
    • Fidgeting
    • Avoidance
    • Substance abuse –using "downers" such as prescription medications and alcohol
    • “Blanking" out answers to the test, even though you know the information
    • Negative self-talk
    • Trouble concentrating
    • Racing thoughts

Symptoms of Test Anxiety

  • Emotional symptoms can include:
    • Depression
    • Low self-esteem
    • Anger
    • Hopelessness
    • Helplessness
    • Frustration
    • Fear

Tips to Reduce Test Anxiety

  • Prepare systematically.
    • Study and practice the material that will be on the test.
    • Develop a consistent pre-test routine, as possible.
    • Use study groups or involve others in your study sessions.
  • Talk to your instructor.
    • Make sure you understand what's going to be on the test.
    • Let your instructor know that you feel anxious when you take tests, he or she may have suggestions and other resources to help you succeed.
  • Learn relaxation techniques.
    • Deep-breathing exercises
    • Visualization
  • Eat before the exam.
  • Get plenty of sleep.

More Tips

  • Don't ignore a learning disability.
    • Find out if there is an underlying condition that interferes with the ability to learn, focus or concentrate, for example, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or dyslexia.
    • A student diagnosed with a learning disability has a right to adjustments to help with test taking, such as extra time to complete a test or having questions read aloud.
  • Stay hydrated.
    • Drink plenty of water.
    • Avoid sugary drinks: soda, they can cause your blood sugar to peak and then drop
    • Avoid caffeinated beverages: energy drinks or coffee, they can cause or increase anxiety
  • Get some exercise.

Ways to Beat Test Anxiety During the Test

  • Read all directions carefully
  • Stay focused
  • Take deep breaths
  • Stay positive
  • Stay relaxed
    • Change positions during the exam to help relax and/or regain focus
  • Don’t cram right before the test starts - it will cause unnecessary anxiety
  • Be prepared for the test, with pen/paper/ calculator etc.

More Ways…

  • On multiple choice questions, read all answers before making a selection
  • If you go blank, skip the question and go back
  • If it is an essay exam pick one question and start writing, it may help trigger your responses for other questions
  • Don’t watch the time
  • Don’t worry about when others finish
  • Remember
  • Test anxiety is
  • You are NOT alone,
  • if you suffer from it.

Special Services for Students

  • For More Information
  • Please contact:
  • Lisa Webb, lbwebb@vcu.edu or
  • Amy Miller, ammiller4@vcu.edu
  • 804-828-9782

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