Being anxious about taking tests or exams is very common – and it’s perfectly normal to be a little nervous and stressed beforehand. Some people even find that a little stress actually helps to keep them sharp and focused.
But if this normal anxiety doesn’t disappear when the test starts, or is so intense that it gets in the way of achieving what you capable of, then you need to do something about it.
That’s because studies have shown that anxiety can actually lower test results by around 12 percent… which is a massive difference.
Look at the following questions and see if you recognise yourself…
- Do you freeze when it is time to take a test?
- Does your mind goes blank?
- Does your heart beat faster than normal?
- Do you feel hot or like you are sweating a lot?
- Is it difficult to read the questions?
- Do you feel sick or have stomach cramps/diarrhoea?
- Wish you had more time?
- Does it seem more difficult than you thought?
- Does your body feel weird?
Test anxiety affects not only the body but the mind too. There are physical symptoms, including: a pounding heart, feeling hot and sweating, a dry mouth, rapid breathing, butterflies or stomach cramps and legs or arms feeling wobbly or trembling.
The mental symptoms include: finding it hard to put down logical answers, finding it difficult to add detail or organise thoughts, forgetting what you know and finding it hard to focus on the question.
Does this sound familiar?
You are not alone… between a quarter and half of students struggle with test anxiety and it is not due to any lack of preparation or any intellectual problems.
The testing situation creates anxiety and that affects memory, ability to recall and process key information, and causes many physical problems that get in the way of focusing on the test.
You might be wondering…
Why do I get anxious?
Anxiety doesn’t choose it victims for any reason, it simply chooses students who are easily convinced by negative thoughts, those who have doubts and those who under-estimate their ability.
What thoughts do you have before a test?
- “I hate tests”
- “I am rubbish at tests”
- “I never do very well”
- “Friends will laugh at me”
- “My parents will be disappointed”
- “My teachers will be cross”
- “I’ll let every one down”
- “I need an A, I Have to get an A”
- “Failure is not an option”,
Thoughts like those above add pressure.
You start worrying about the consequences of not doing as well as you should, and because you are worrying, your mind kicks off the fight/flight response and you lose the ability to think straight.
But the good news is…
Thoughts can be changed…
How much easier would an exam or test be if you could go into it thinking, “I can do this …it might be tough, but I can do it”.
Self-belief is one of the best motivators, because it helps us keep going even when things get difficult.
Take J K Rowling, for example. Her Harry Potter book was rejected by the leading 12 publishers, but her belief took her to Bloomsbury publishing house and she has now sold over 400 million books.
Sir James Dyson, who invented the cyclone vacuum cleaner said, “I made 5,127 prototypes of my vacuum before I got it right. There were 5,126 failures. But I learned from each one. That’s how I came up with a solution. So I don’t mind failure.”
His belief in his ability, belief he could find his solution, kept him going… and he did!
And that’s what you need when you go into an exam… a belief that, whatever the exam throws at you, you know how to stay calm, think straight and keep going to the best of your ability.
That’s why our workshops are so useful. They help you understand your fears, and teach you how to cope with test anxiety so you can perform to the best of your ability.
So, not only will you be able to go into tests feeling calmer and more confident, but you will have the best chance of achieving better grades too.