What is Test Anxiety?
Your heart is racing, your palms are sweating, and your eyes are fighting to stay open thanks to those not-so-helpful flash cards you spent last night making. The teacher passes out the test, and you look at the answers: it’s C! No, wait, it’s A! No, C? Maybe it’s D? Where’s the “none” or “all of the above” option when you need it?
Has this happened to you? You aren’t alone. Test anxiety can happen to anyone, from the perfectionist to the ultimate school slacker. (Students in military families are especially likely to report feelings of anxiety, according to a recent RAND study.) Anxiety can appear before every test, or just that one big exam that could change your whole future. Some people feel nothing but a slight twinge of nervousness, which pushes them to perform better on a test, while others are weighed down by a crushing feeling of stress and anxiety.
This extreme level of anxiety affects you on three levels—physical, emotional, and behavioral. The sweaty palms, nausea, increased heart rate, and shaking hands are physical reactions to intense anxiety. When the body is under stress it releases adrenaline, which prepares the body for dangerous circumstances. This adrenaline is what makes your palms sweat and your heart race. These physical reactions can heighten your emotional response, causing self-doubt and leaving no room in your mind for concentration. This, in turn, leads to behaviors such as procrastination, poor diet, and an erratic sleep schedule, all of which disrupt your daily routine and make your pre-test anxiety even worse.
Preventing Test Anxiety
Need tips on fighting test anxiety? Here are some resources that may help:
Another great way to beat test-taking anxiety is to be prepared, instead of staying “stuck” on a concept you don’t understand. If you need help with a problem that’s stressing you out, you can connect to a tutor right now at Tutor.com.
What are your tricks for dealing with test anxiety?