How To Reduce Test Anxiety In Classrooms

Before an assessment, many students feel a certain level of anxiety known as test anxiety. Young students who feel anxious about tests may feel a surge of energy in their bodies before and during the test.

However, for some students, anxiety can make it harder to focus and do well in tests. When this happens, it’s important to do things that can help decrease or get rid of anxiety feelings and improve performance in exams.

What is test anxiety?

Test anxiety is a genuine form of stress that can make it difficult for certain students to do their best in tests or exams. It’s normal to feel a bit nervous before an exam because it’s how our bodies and minds respond to stress.

However, sometimes this can make it difficult for our brains to think clearly, and it can also activate a natural response in the body known as the flight or fight response.

The American Psychological Association acknowledges test anxiety as a form of performance anxiety, which means feeling apprehensive about taking a test. Test anxiety can happen when students are afraid of failing, when they feel intense pressure to succeed, or when they’ve had negative experiences with tests before.

It can lead to various physical symptoms such as:

1) Headaches

2) Feeling sick and,

3) Dizziness.

It can also cause emotional and cognitive symptoms like feeling helpless and having trouble concentrating.

Although many people feel anxious during tests, we don’t have to let it hold us back. It’s essential for successful students to learn how to anticipate and handle test anxiety.

Is test anxiety a disability?

It’s important to note that test anxiety is not classified as a psychiatric disorder in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. The reason for that is because test anxiety is not typically considered a daily life activity from a professional standpoint.

To determine whether one’s symptoms fall within the normal range or have clinical significance, an evaluation is necessary. It is crucial for the student to undergo an assessment conducted by a qualified healthcare professional.

These professionals need to provide documentation supporting the claim that the student’s test anxiety qualifies as a disability.

It’s worth noting that psychologists and disability professionals distinguish between generalized anxiety, which can significantly affect various aspects of daily life, and test-specific anxiety that primarily arises during test-taking.

Types of test anxiety

Some individuals who tend to worry a lot or strive for perfection may face difficulties with test anxiety.  People with these characteristics often struggle to accept any mistakes they might make or receive anything less than a perfect score.

As a result, they unintentionally put a lot of pressure on themselves. In such situations, test anxiety can easily take hold and affect them.

Test anxiety is made up of different parts that often happen when someone is taking a test. The two most common types of test anxiety are:

  • Mental/Emotional: The part that troubles people the most is feeling distraught inside. People with test anxiety feel scared or worried, sometimes even feeling like they are terrified.
  •  Physical: This in turn affects their physical health. They may end up experiencing symptoms like shaking, sweating, changes in heart rate and breathing, having sweaty hands, a shaky voice, and tense muscles. They might also feel dizzy, tense, have a stomachache, or worry that they might pass out.

How to manage test anxiety?

Experiencing test anxiety can lead to more errors, hinder reasoning and working memory, cause confusion, and result in lower test scores. Furthermore, it is crucial to recognize that test anxiety negatively affects the overall well-being of a student. 

Thankfully, there are techniques you can employ in feeling more at ease and self-assured before taking a test.

Speak to your educators:

Educators frequently discuss with their students the possible topics that might be included in a test and what they can anticipate.

They are a valuable source of information, so engaging in discussions with them and asking questions can provide significant assistance.

Managing Your Time Wisely:

A student’s success greatly relies on their ability to manage time effectively.  To reduce anxiety and improve productivity, try flexible schedules, task rewards, personal time planning, and avoiding stressors.

Be Mindful of Your Thoughts:

Your expectations can have a significant impact on your test performance and anxiety levels. Just as positive expectations can help you relax, negative expectations can be detrimental.

It’s important to be aware of any negative messages you may be sending yourself about the test, as they can contribute to your anxiety.

Adopt a Nourishing Eating Routine:

Research has shown that maintaining a healthy diet can effectively alleviate stress. Consuming fruits and vegetables before an exam can help decrease stress levels.

Additionally, including protein-rich foods in your diet can enhance mental alertness. It’s best to steer clear of processed foods and those with high sugar content, as they can intensify feelings of anxiety.

Take a Break:

Getting ready for a test may feel overwhelming, but adopting effective study routines can help reduce the anxiety that often arises the night before an exam. Utilize the evening before the test for a brief recap and make sure to prioritize a peaceful sleep.

In a nutshell

Test anxiety can hinder performance and negatively impact academic results. However, there are various ways to manage and minimize test anxiety.

It’s important to remember that this process doesn’t happen overnight. Confronting and managing test anxiety develops valuable stress management skills applicable beyond exams.

Simple lifestyle adjustments, like eating well and getting enough sleep, can make a significant difference. Additionally, during the actual exam, it’s helpful to refocus attention on the present task whenever unhelpful thoughts about the test, oneself, or the outcome arise.

To learn more about how we can better assist our students, mentally and emotionally, sign up now and read our blogs at EDU Passport.

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