As part of your high school career, you will be required to take a number of tests that will contribute to your grade point average, carry you on to the next grade level and ultimately help you meet all the requirements necessary in order to get into college. Some of these tests will be rather easy, while others may play a bigger role in determining your grade for a particular course. If you are a high school student, you will also need to take college-readiness tests like the SAT or ACT, and if you are a college student or graduate student, you will have to take tests as well. Test taking is a huge part of being a student, and as much experience as you may have with it, you may still experience a lot of pre-test anxiety. Learning how to manage that anxiety with test anxiety tips is a very important skill so that you can be focused, prepared and mentally healthy.
About Test Anxiety
Text anxiety usually occurs a few days before a test comes up. While some people never feel anxious about a test, others may have a difficult time with it. Text anxiety happens for several reasons. For instance, the student may be anxious about what questions may be on the test, or he may be worried that he may not know the correct answers in order to get the grade that he wants or needs. Students may also feel more anxious about a test when it's for a class or a subject level that they find challenging, whereas they may feel less anxious when the test is for a class or subject level that comes easily to them. Test anxiety can really cause mental, physical and emotional stress for a lot of students, which can affect all aspects of their lives. This is why it is absolutely necessary for students to learn to manage that anxiety by practicing a number of test anxiety tips.
What Triggers Test Anxiety?
What triggers test anxiety for one person may be different from what triggers test anxiety for another person. Sometimes, a student can't help but feel anxious before any type of test, no matter what it is. Other times, a student may become anxious depending on whether it is a test, a quiz or an exam. Test anxiety may be worse at certain times. For example, some students may feel more anxious in the days or weeks leading up to a test, while others may feel anxious during or after the test.
You may feel more anxious about a test when you feel as though you don't understand the material well, if you don't have enough time to study because you have other tests or assignments going on, if the test will have a big impact on your grade point average or if your teacher suddenly announces a pop quiz for which you're not prepared.
Students may also be triggered with test anxiety when they know that the test can have a serious impact on their grades or their future. Perhaps it's a class final, a state exam, the ACT/SAT or a certification exam that's presenting you with unsettling feelings. Test anxiety can also be triggered by other students if they are constantly talking among their classmates about how stressful the test is, or it can be triggered by parents who are putting a lot of pressure on their children to do well in school.
What Are the Symptoms of Test Anxiety?
Text anxiety can come in all forms, and no two students will experience it in exactly the same way. That being said, there are some common symptoms of test anxiety that most people have experienced at some point in their lives and can easily relate to others. Sometimes, test anxiety symptoms can make a student feel very uneasy and can even make them feel sick. Of course, some are much more serious than others.
- Feelings of dread
- Racing heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Stomach pain
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Hair loss
- Excessive sweating
- Difficulty sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating/racing thoughts
While most of these symptoms are completely normal, if you're experiencing a majority of these symptoms every time you have a test coming up, and the symptoms are so severe to the point that they are disrupting your daily life, then you may want to consider seeing a doctor. There's a chance that the reason you are experiencing test anxiety like this is because you have a medical condition that may need attention.
How Can I Reduce Test Anxiety?
Although test anxiety never feels good, in most cases, it's a sign that you care enough about your grades that you want to do well, and that's never a bad thing. That being said, the symptoms that come with test anxiety can actually take away from the studying you need to be doing, which can in turn make you more anxious. This is why it's extremely important to learn how to reduce general test anxiety before it even hits.
- Take a look at your syllabus to know when tests are scheduled.
- Talk to your teacher when you don't understand something.
- Seek extra help.
- Study and review your notes even when you don't have a test coming up.
- Get plenty of exercise and try to keep a healthy diet.
- Keep your notes organized.
- Save old tests because questions from those may come up again on future tests.
- Take deep breaths whenever you start to feel anxious.
- Keep an organized agenda book so you can visualize when tests will be and plan accordingly.
- Don't overthink.
How Can I Avoid Stress While Studying?
Test anxiety kicks in at different times, depending on who you are. For some students, text anxiety can start at the first mention of the word "test." For others, it may only begin the moment you sit down to take a test, and for others, it may start when they begin studying. To avoid stress while studying, there are several things you can do.
- Set aside time just for studying for 30 minutes to an hour each day.
- Take one or two five-minute breaks.
- Turn off all distractions.
- Write down any topics or questions you don't understand.
- Make a study guide for yourself, or if your teacher gives you a study guide, use that.
- Make flashcards.
- Use different colored pens and highlighters to make studying fun.
- Ask someone to quiz you.
- Study with friends (if that works for you).
- Work in a quiet place.
- Have a snack.
- Get up and stretch or do some yoga every so often.
- Don't overstudy; stop yourself after you've dedicated the time you said that you would dedicate.
Text Anxiety Tips for High School Students
High school students will experience test anxiety likely much more than students younger than them. This is because during high school, especially junior year, students will need to take many state exams and college-readiness exams in addition to tests and exams they'll need to take in their regular classes. While high school students certainly have a lot of practice with test taking and may already know some useful test anxiety tips, it doesn't hurt to have a few more at your disposal, especially before taking the SAT or ACT.
- Prepare yourself by studying for a few months or weeks leading up to the test (depending on which test it is).
- Don't save studying for the last minute and cram.
- Try to take practice tests, like the PSAT.
- Sign up for a test-preparation course.
- Utilize study materials, like guidebooks.
- Be mindful of your stress levels.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Ask friends and family for support.
- Reach out to teachers and tutors if you need extra help.
- Sign up for tests early so you have the opportunity to retake them if you're not happy with your score.
- Try to maintain a healthy diet and exercise often.
Test Anxiety Tips for College Students
By the time high school students make it to college, they've already gotten through the hard part. Getting into college is a major achievement, and that alone goes to show that you're a champion at handling tests. Unfortunately, just when you thought you could finally relax a little bit, you're now in your freshman year of college. Freshman year can be a major adjustment for many students, especially because of the way classes are taught and what the curriculum involves. For instance, some universities have courses in which there are only lectures and tests and perhaps a small project. This can be difficult for students who feel as though they are not strong test takers and don't want their entire grade based on one test. Therefore, when you pick a college, it's important to review what the courses are like so you're not caught off guard the first day of school.
All that considered, you will still have to take tests no matter what, even if you're at a school that bases grades on everything from homework assignments to group projects. Additionally, depending on your major and the field you will be entering, you may also need to take certain certification tests. For example, those who are studying education and want to become a teacher when they graduate will also need to take the appropriate certification tests while in school. College students can definitely experience test anxiety just like anyone else. Therefore, it's nice to know what to do if you start to feel it.
- Stay on top of your lesson materials.
- Don't be afraid to ask your teacher for help.
- Join study groups on campus.
- Take practice exams for certification tests.
- Make sure to keep a decent sleep schedule.
- Ask if you need any test-taking accommodations.
Managing Anxiety on Test Day
Students typically start to feel test anxiety on the days or weeks leading up to a test. Other students may not feel any type of test anxiety until the day of the test. While others may have already dealt with their anxiety and are completely in the right mindset on test day, you could suddenly start feeling those symptoms the night before. To manage anxiety on test day, there are several things you can do.
- Get a good sleep the night before.
- Pull out comfortable clothes for the next day .
- Pack your lunch (if necessary) the night before.
- Wake up early so that you have time to be alert and get energized.
- Have sharpened pencils, a calculator or whatever else you need for the test.
- Eat a nutritious breakfast.
- Get to the test site early.
- Bring a snack and water (if allowed).
- Take your time reading the questions.
- Skip over questions about which you are unsure and come back to them.
- Ignore what your classmates are doing.
- Try not to look at the clock.
- Take deep breaths.
- Stretch every so often in your seat.
- Try to avoid talking about the test afterward with classmates because this can trigger additional anxiety.