Feelings of stress and anxiety aren’t limited to the final stretch of the school year; they can happen at any time in any subject to students of all ages and learning levels. Test anxiety is a type of performance anxiety and is a combination of emotional and physical reactions which can interfere with a student’s ability to perform. Even the most well-prepared and successful students can feel the effects of this, which can lead to memory loss, concentration issues, negative self-talk, feelings of hopelessness, and physical symptoms such as upset stomach, headaches, and an increased heartbeat.
Although feeling some nerves and having feelings of anxiety can be expected for any student who is preparing for a test, it’s crucial to stop these feelings from growing to the point where they impact a student’s performance and cause adverse effects. To prevent them, we must first identify what causes them. Some common reasons for test anxiety include unpreparedness, fear of failure, embarrassment due to poor grades, a lack of control, and inadequate testing history.
Here are some ways that you can help your child overcome test anxiety:
Say “No” to Negativity
Identifying negative thoughts that can cause you to think unfavourably about yourself leading up to a test can help you manage test anxiety. Making an effort to replace thoughts like “I’m going to fail” with “I am ready to succeed” or “I can’t do this” with “I will do this” can go a long way to building confidence and pushing away anxiety and self-doubt. Focus on the fact that you’ve worked hard and prepared well instead of making up for adverse scenarios.
Utilizing relaxation techniques before a test, such as visualization, breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga, are all proven to help manage anxiety and stress symptoms. Learning how to calm your mind and body down can be an invaluable tool to have at your disposal when you are in a high-pressure situation such as a test or exam. If your body is used to going into a stress response under pressure, relaxation techniques can teach it to enter a relaxation response instead.
Take Your Time
It’s important not to rush during a test, as working too fast can provoke feelings of anxiety. Starting with questions you know and can more easily answer can give you an early sense of accomplishment that you can carry through the remainder of the test. This will also allow you to spend more time on more complex questions. Also, read over the test first, so you know what’s ahead of you and can formulate a plan on which areas to start and end with.
This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s worth talking about. If you take the time to study correctly and do all the little things that can help you to feel good on the day of the test (get a good night’s sleep, eat a good breakfast, show up early for the test), then you’ll feel more confident when you begin the test. Reviewing materials in the weeks leading up to the test or using tutors and study partners to prepare can go a long way in keeping negative thoughts away and reducing or eliminating any test anxiety.
Turn that test anxiety into test assurance! Don’t let those negative thoughts keep you from achieving the grades and goals you worked so hard for.