Test anxiety is very real and quite common. Some students do not even realize that this is their problem when they study hard for tests, can answer all the questions, yet freeze up when the test is placed in front of them. Test anxiety can cause havoc with a student’s self-esteem and cause him/her great concern about the how and why of solving the problem.
Experts say that test anxiety is a learned behavior. Students are so fearful of doing poorly on tests that they second guess themselves, change the answers on the test and as a result their fears come through and they do get a bad grade. In other cases, students can work themselves into such a worried state about taking a test that they become physically ill. These students need to be retaught how to prepare for a test and strategies they can use just before and during the test to help them relax.
It is hard to tell someone who is all worked up that he/she needs to relax. This is the key to overcoming test anxiety, though. They can start by tensing and relaxing their muscles – the muscles in their neck and back and in their arms. Shake out their arms and fingers and turn their neck from side to side to work out the stiffness that results from pent-up tension. Another good relaxation technique is to have this person visualize them in a place where they feel totally relaxed and at peace. For many students it will be a safe place where they feel that all is well in their lives. Taking deep breaths and exhaling will also help relax both the body and the mind.
Prepare for the test
The amount and type of preparation a student does before a test also affects test anxiety. Studying for a test is not something that one should leave to the last minute. By completing all assigned work, reviewing notes and studying nightly will help the student feel confident about the material being tested. The night before a test should be one where the student reviews the material rather than trying to cram all the information into the brain in a very short time.
A good night’s sleep is essential on the night before the test. When a student stays up until the early hours of the morning studying, there is a good chance that he/she is not really absorbing the information because of tiredness and then the lack of sleep reduces the alertness for the actual test.
Taking the test
The first thing all students should do when they start to take a test is to carefully read the instructions and all the questions. In this way, students will know what it is expected of them and how much each section of the test is worth. Do the easiest questions first and if necessary use scrap paper to outline the answers to questions that require longer answers. Then you have time to go back and spend on the questions for which more thought may be needed. Check over the answers before you pass it in.