Test Anxiety in Students: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

  • ACIO
  • November 24, 2023
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A student has spent countless nights studying for his exam, believing he has learned and understood all the concepts well. However, when the day of the test arrives, he suddenly goes blank, freeze up, zone out, or get so scared that he can’t come up with a response to that question he knew the answers to just last night.

If this describes you as well, you may suffer from test anxiety – a tense feeling many have when they are ready to take a test.

It’s natural to feel tense, anxious and frightened before an exam. Almost everyone does. And a little apprehensive anticipation before an exam can really help you do better.

On the other hand, test anxiety can be rather severe for certain people. They may experience such high stress or panic before an exam that it hampers their concentration or performance. Here we will have an overview of test anxiety, symptoms, causes, and treatment that’ll help you to overcome it.

Test Anxiety in Students: Overview

Test anxiety is a psychological condition in which people are distressed and anxious when they are being tested. While many people feel stressed and anxious before and during exams, test anxiety can hinder learning and lead to poor test results.

Anxiety disorders are pretty widespread, affecting over 18% of adults. According to reliable sources, test anxiety afflicts almost a quarter of 13 to 18 years old. Children with untreated childhood anxiety often struggle in school and on tests.

Test Anxiety Symptoms:

You may feel physical, emotional, and cognitive problems if you have test anxiety.

1. Emotional Symptoms of Test Anxiety in Students:

  • Self-doubt
  • Fear
  • Stress
  • Hopelessness
  • Inadequacy
  • Frustration
  • Anger
  • Racing thoughts

2. Physical Symptoms of Test Anxiety:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Lightheaded or faint
  • Stomach ache
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches
  • Sweaty palms
  • Panicking

3. Behavioral/ Cognitive Symptoms of Test Anxiety:

  • Concentration difficulty
  • Negative thoughts
  • Clouded judgment
  • Procrastination
  • Comparing yourself to others

You may also experience restlessness, nervousness, and fidgetiness.

Anxiety can make it harder to concentrate. As a result, your ideas may be muddled, and you’ve forgotten everything you’ve learned. You may also become more indecisive and find it challenging to select between the two options.

These symptoms may be a precursor to or part of a panic attack in severe cases of test anxiety.

Test Anxiety Causes:

It can be a combination of factors for many students. For example, exam anxiety can be caused by poor study habits, poor test performance in the past, or an underlying anxiety disorder.

A few potential test anxiety causes:

  • Fear of failure: When you link your self-worth, career, and future to your exam score and know that failing is not an option, the pressure you experience can ignite significant test anxiety.
  • Poor performance history: If you’ve previously performed poorly on exams, either because you didn’t study enough or because you were so nervous that you couldn’t recall the answers.
  • Lack of preparation: If you didn’t study at all or didn’t practice well enough, you may have increased worry.
  • Intense performance pressure: If you strive for specific scores and exam grades, it enhances your test anxiety.
  • Striving for Perfection: Perfectionism is defined as having unrealistically high-performance standards for yourself. According to studies, students who try to chase perfection have more test anxiety and perform worse on exams.

Test Anxiety Treatment:

1. Study efficiently:

Create a study timetable and follow it diligently. Study in small and regular sessions. Break lengthy topics/chapters into small sections. Make smart notes and highlight key formulae, concepts, and definitions. It will help you in overcoming last moment test anxiety.

2. Prepare well:

Start your test preparation early and study rigorously. Set a realistic study routine, achieve daily targets to finish your syllabus on time, and revise your entire syllabus. Preparing well enough before the exam will help you eliminate test anxiety.

3. Seek help:

Make sure you know what will be on each test and how to prepare for it. Additionally, inform your teacher/mentors that you experience anxiety when taking exams. They might be able to provide you with advice to assist you in overcoming test anxiety.

4. Practice enough question/sample papers:

It might be one of the most effective ways to elevate test anxiety. Practice enough questions and sample papers to boost your confidence for the exam. You should solve previous year’s sample papers/ mock test papers in real exam-like situations with a given time limit. Doing this will help you in avoiding test anxiety.

5. Engage in self-care:

Self-care is of utmost importance for preventing test anxiety. Eat healthily, get adequate restful sleep, incorporate exercise or meditation into your day, and engage in relaxing and fun activities to maintain your overall health.

Although test anxiety is unpleasant and stressful, it is manageable. If you suspect your ability to do well on tests is being hampered by test anxiety, try using some of these tactics to control it. However, if it’s becoming too much for you to handle, get professional help. If you are a student aspiring for NEET, JEE, or other Olympiad exams and struggling with test anxiety, ALLEN Overseas provides best-in-the-industry academic support and mentoring to help you overcome all the learning obstacles and achieve your dream success. Contact us, and we’ll gladly assist you.

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