Test anxiety is a normal thing for a student to feel, but it can have some pretty bad negative impacts on their grades and mental well-being. Understanding why you may have test anxiety and test anxiety is a great place to start when trying to reduce test anxiety. This article will provide you with some great tips and tricks to help you reduce your test anxiety.
What is Test Anxiety?
Test anxiety is like any other anxiety, and it is a response to a stimulus that makes you feel anxious and nervous. Like other anxieties, it can be hard to manage on your own, especially if you have more severe test anxiety.
Test anxiety manifests differently in every person, so there is no one thing to look for to try to determine if you have test anxiety. Generally, test anxiety causes a variety of physical and mental symptoms, including, but not limited to, sweating, jittery, and lack of concentration. The causes of test anxiety are just as varied as the symptoms, so determining what could be causing your test anxiety can also be a challenge.
How Common is Test Anxiety in College Students?
College is a foreign concept to every student who steps foot through the doors. Your freshman year of college can be immensely stressful for any student, but if you already have had test anxiety in high school or even middle school, you are more likely to have test anxiety in college. Many students feel that the stakes are higher in college, so they put more pressure on themselves, meaning the test anxiety rates are high in colleges.
Unfortunately, it is hard to study test anxiety since most students feel stressed about tests, and distinguishing between being stressed and having test anxiety can be challenging. Many experts say that around half of college students are likely to have test anxiety of some sort, so it is much more common than you might initially think.
What are the Causes of Test Anxiety?
There are lots of potential causes of test anxiety but trying to find the cause of your test anxiety is essential to overcoming and reducing your test anxiety. Many test anxiety causes are rooted in the pressure that either the student or the family puts on the student. This is one of the most challenging causes to overcome, but it can be done through hard work and understanding why you or your family puts so much pressure on you.
Another common cause of test anxiety is the fear of failure. Many college students fear failing in college since college is the training that you will need to get an excellent job in the future. Making sure that you do well is a stressful thing that can induce test anxiety in many students.
The fear of failure can also be rooted in a learning disability, such as ADHA or dyslexia. If you have one of these, or any learning disability, and feel that you always do poorly or that the test isn’t made for you to succeed, you may begin to feel that it is not worth it to try. This can lead to a sense of demoralization, but it can also lead to test anxiety.
Like other anxieties, test anxiety can also be caused by chemical imbalances in your brain. This is hard to fix since you can’t just tell your brain to balance out the chemicals, but you can use relaxation techniques to help mitigate your body’s stress response during exams. There are also medications that can be used, just how they would be used with any other anxiety, to treat the imbalances, but medication is not the answer to every student’s test anxiety.
How to Manage Exam Anxiety?
There are a lot of strategies out there that can help you manage your exam anxiety, but it can take some trial and error to figure out what works best for you. Since each person experiences test anxiety for a different reason and in a different way, there is no one plan that will work for every person. That being said, there are plenty of options out there that can help you manage your exam anxiety.
One of the best ways to manage your exam anxiety, so it doesn’t become an overwhelming part of your life, is to get into the habit of staying ahead of your work. This can be challenging for many students in high school, but it can often get even more challenging in college. One of the most significant differences between high school and college is the amount of freedom you have to determine your college schedule. This can make getting ahead and staying ahead really hard.
In high school, you likely had class from around 8 am to around 3 pm, then either some activities after school or just time to hang out and do homework. This set timeframe of school gave you a schedule. This all changes in college.
In college, you will not have class at the same time every day. You will also not have class for the same length of time that you did in high school, but you will be expected to do more work out of the classroom. This means that you may feel like you have all the time in the world. This feeling tends to lead to students pushing off work and not staying ahead of their studies.
If you can find a way to motivate yourself to stay ahead of your studying, you will have the upper hand when it comes to managing your exam anxiety. It might take time to develop a good routine that will work for you, but it is possible.
What to Do Before the Test?
Making sure that you prepare yourself well for the exam is a great way to help mitigate test anxiety, especially more minor test anxiety. This includes everything from how you study for the exam to what you eat the day of the exam. Making sure that you are mentally and physically ready to take the test is the best way to set yourself up for success.
The first thing you should do before an exam is to start studying early. Cramming right before an exam is more likely to stress you out than it is to actually help you perform well on the exam, so make sure you start studying at least a week or more in advance of the test. Studying a little bit every day for the week or two leading up to the test is the best way to prepare your brain to perform well on the actual test.
If you need help developing a good study schedule or just want to know more about the best ways to study, feel free to check out our other articles on studying for tests. Understanding the best ways for you to study and then implementing those study strategies is essential to set yourself up for success.
Once you feel like you are ready for the exam and have figured out a study schedule that works for you, you need to figure out how to prepare yourself physically for the test. The night before the test, make sure you eat a good, healthy dinner and get a good night’s sleep. This will help fuel your brain, so it has all the necessary tools to succeed on the test the next day.
When you get up the morning of your test, eat a good breakfast that will give you enough energy to get through the day. Most people don’t think that your brain burns calories and needs energy to work efficiently, so if you don’t provide your brain with the fuel it needs, it won’t work as well during the test.
Before you sit down for your test, make sure you have all the materials you need. It’s always a good idea to have an extra writing implement with you just in case something happens. Make sure you go to the bathroom before your test, so you don’t find yourself sitting in the test thinking about how you have to go to the bathroom. Bring some water with you into the test to stay hydrated so you can take a little refresh break in the middle of your test and get a drink.
The biggest challenge in preparing for a test is making sure that you are mentally ready to go into the test. Don’t sit in the hall reading your flashcards or study guide right before the test since that is more likely to stress you out than it is to actually help you. Instead, try meditating or stretching for a few minutes to help calm yourself down and focus your mind before you head into your test.
7 Pieces of Advice to Reduce Test Anxiety for College Students
Find and fix the root of the problem
Finding and fixing the source of the problem is a fantastic way to reduce your test anxiety, but it can take some work to figure out. For many people, the stress that started their testing anxiety was either internal stress, such as putting lots of pressure on themselves, or family stress, such as parents putting too much pressure on them, but this is not always the case. Figuring out why tests give you anxiety will help you figure out the best way to help you get over your test anxiety.
Practicing meditation or yoga is a great way to help calm your mind and get focused on the test. While meditation and yoga are the most common ways to calm your mind, some people find other activities, such as painting, rock climbing, or running, to be more helpful for them. Take some time to find an activity that will work for you.
If you want help working on relaxation techniques, there are tons of resources available for free that can help you out. There is a multitude of free apps that offer guided meditations and will even send you reminders to help get you in the habit of taking some time to center yourself every day. This can be super helpful, especially for someone who is really busy or tends to feel overwhelmed quickly.
Make sure you are prepared for the test
This might sound simple, but making sure that you are as ready for the test can be a great way to help minimize more minor test anxiety symptoms. If you feel confident going into the test, you are much less likely to feel anxious about the test. Ensure that you study for a reasonable amount of time before the test and don’t cram the night before, since that is more likely to make you anxious. We have some great articles that can help you study for a test if you want to check those out.
Talk with your professor
Professionals want you to succeed, so often, if you talk to them, they are more than willing to help you out. Maybe they’ll have some practice questions that are specific to their tests or some new study strategy that can help you out. The best thing about talking to your professor about a challenge you are having is that they know that you are trying, and that can go a long way.
Talk to a counselor
Like any other anxiety, sometimes you can’t work through it on your own. Speaking with a counselor is a great way to help reduce your test-based anxiety. Counselors also have great test anxiety meditations that can really help you out.
College is a great time to talk with a counselor. Many colleges have on-campus counseling centers that are free or are pretty cheap for students. Colleges know that college students’ anxiety rates are high, so they want to offer you resources to help you out.
Work on practice tests
Sitting down and taking a practice test in a simulated test scenario is a great way for you to help work through your anxiety. Practicing taking tests is a simple way to help manage your exam-based anxiety.
You can even combine tip 4 with this tip and talk to your professor to see if they have any practice tests that they can give you. This might be an old test that they no longer use or some online resource that has good test-prep questions. Professionals are there to help you, and they know a ton about their subject and learn it, so use their knowledge to your advantage.
Find another outlet for your anxiety
Some people find that having something to fidget with can help them manage their test anxiety. This could be having a fidget ring or some other small object to hold while you take the test. Just make sure that whatever you choose to use doesn’t make any noise, so you don’t disturb other test-takers.
Another great outlet for your anxiety is exercise. Many students find that running or biking activities are great ways for them to release their anxieties in a productive way. Exercise also releases a flood of endorphins into your brain, which can help improve your mood, your health, and even your self-confidence.
Wrappings Things Up: How to Reduce Test Anxiety in College Students
Don’t feel bad if you struggle with test anxiety. Test anxiety is a super common form of anxiety that as many as half of all college students suffer from. If you can stay on top of your work and not be too hard on yourself, you will have taken a massive step in the right direction when it comes to managing your exam anxiety. It will take work to reduce your test anxiety, but with the right tools at your disposal, you can get through your test anxiety.