Tips for Parents
Test Anxiety: Is Your Student Performing at His Best?
Imagine: You've studied hard and you feel prepared for the exam you are about to take. You sit down in class and your professor begins passing out the exam. Suddenly, you blank out — completely. You are frozen and feel so nervous that you can't get it together. You can't remember any of the answers you knew without hesitation last night.
This is what it's like to have test anxiety — and some college students experience test anxiety so strongly that it interferes with their concentration or performance.
What is Test Anxiety?
Test anxiety is actually a type of performance anxiety, which occurs in a situation where someone might have to do really well. Just like when someone feels pressure on the opening night of a play or during a big competition, test anxiety can cause a stomachache, a tension headache, a racing heartbeat and more. Someone with a severe case of test anxiety might actually feel like he could pass out or be sick.
Who Gets Test Anxiety?
Anyone can experience test anxiety, but those most likely to have trouble with test taking are those who worry a lot or who are perfectionists. Additionally, when a student doesn't prepare for a test but really wants to do well, he might experience test anxiety.
How Can Students Combat Test Anxiety?
You can help your student prepare to take — and do well — on exams by sharing the following tips:
- Handle stress in a positive way. Stress is the body's warning mechanism, and in this case, it can remind you to do what needs to be prepared. Instead of complaining or worrying, let stress serve as a guide for planning out a study strategy.
- Get help when needed. If you are getting so stressed about a test that you are forgetting everything you know, you might want to talk with a counselor or your academic advisor. They can offer some additional coping strategies.
- Develop a study schedule. The more students study, the more prepared they feel. Developing a study plan — and sticking to it — can reduce your test anxiety because you'll feel more confident and expect to do well.
- Think positively. Acting and thinking positively generally ends in positive results. Sending negative messages to yourself can contribute to anxiety.
- Be accepting of mistakes. Nobody is perfect — and nobody expects that you are. Doing your best is the best you can do.
- Take care of yourself. Eat well and get a good night's sleep leading up to the test. This will keep your mind working at its best.
Learning to manage the stress that comes along with performing will help your student in so many ways, beyond just taking tests.
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