We’ve All Been There...
You walk into your exam room. You sit down. You lay out your #2 pencils. You flip through some note cards before the exams are passed out. Your professor instructs you to put away all materials. You are handed an exam. You read question one. You look around. You hear the sound of other students’ pencils scratching feverishly. You look down at question one again. You have no idea where to begin, so you skip to number two. You ask yourself if you have studied the wrong material. Your heart starts beating quickly. You start to sweat. Your mind goes blank...
Whether your knowledge is being tested through a written exam, a paper, or a presentation, test anxiety and stress are common and inevitable. However, if managed properly, test anxiety can actually help motivate you and help you perform better. It is when test anxiety begins to lower your performance that it has become a problem.
Tackling Test Anxiety
To best manage test anxiety, it may be helpful to think of it as having two components:
- Physical Reactions (heart pounding, increased sweating etc)
- Worry (thinking about failure, etc.)
Both can impair your performance.
Take Control of Your Worry
There may be different ways of coping with test anxiety depending on the source: Does it occur during preparation or during test-taking? Before preparing for a test, ask yourself, "Do I stress more before the exam or more when I sit down to take the exam?" How you answer this question can help you understand where it might be best to intervene.
Anxiety can be exhausting and debilitating. It often helps to talk to professional counselor who can help you find ways to deal with stress in your life and teach you skills to manage anxiety.