In industrialized countries like America, education is seen as the core of success by society and the metric used to determine a successful student is grades. When exaggerated and unnecessary stress is placed on students, they are at a higher risk of exposure to mental setbacks like test anxiety. Test Anxiety is defined, by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo College, as “a physical or mental reaction to feelings of agitation or distress that you might feel before or during an exam”. The article also explains how test anxiety can worsen one’s performance on an exam from blanking out to a full-blown panic attack during the exam. Symptoms fall into three categories: physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms. Symptoms such as lightheadedness and headache (physical), feelings or anger or despair (emotional), loss of concentration and negative thinking (behavioral) are all examples of indicators that you may be struggling with test anxiety. The prevalence of test anxiety is an alarming among American students. A survey conducted by the American Test Anxieties Association found that 16-20 percent of students suffer from severe test anxiety and another 18 percent suffer from moderate test anxiety.
Test Anxiety has been an obstacle that I have come up against for quite some time. Personally, I have grappled with math for years and test anxiety did not make things easier. Countless hours were spent studying the material in the hopes that my scores would improve, Yet, I struggled through every quiz and exam because of my anxiety. It was a frustrating experience.
Above all, it makes me feel stupid for not being able to understand basic concepts when my issue has nothing to do with rationalizing concepts; it had to do with my inability to combat my panicking mind on a test. Going to a top-academically ranked school in my home state of California, I bear witness to fellow students breaking down over their inability to overcome test anxieties in the subjects that they find challenging. Not to mention, all we hear from teachers is that our grades are the only things that matter and that we can’t fail. (But grades are important? I understand the point you are attempting to make about high pressure situations but be careful with your phrasing as exam results often determine people’s life choices) This mentality leads to the creation of a whole generation so afraid of failure that the prevalence of mental illness spikes drastically. A study by was conducted that showed the rise of “multidimensional perfectionism” among young people was leading to the rise in anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.
I have gotten better with taking exams and managing my testing anxiety. I have compiled a list of tips that I’ve personally used to improve my performance in the face of anxiety.
3. Taking care of yourself, both mentally and physically can help minimise your chances of becoming ill. Eating healthy and getting decent sleep will keep your brain in better shape and will reduce the amount of stressors that can arise before your exam.
Add more practical tips such as how to sleep better, EXERCISE and good pre-exam foods.
4.Seeking out tutoring if you are still struggling. . There is no shame in needing a little bit of extra help and it will benefit your results in the long term. Check with your academic counsellor or your teachers for some possible tutors or talk with your parents about hiring a private tutor. Having another person approaching the subject material in a different way from your teacher might help with understanding concepts and lessening anxiety. Also if you are struggling mentally speak to your schools guidance/pastoral care teachers or the school nurse as they can provide support for you.
I know that it can be frustrating to struggle with test anxiety and be ready to throw the towel when it feels insurmountable. But test anxiety can be overcome.
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