Test Anxiety

Test Anxiety
What is Test Anxiety?
 If you experience test anxiety while taking a test you may notice
the following:
 Mental distraction: your mind may drift while you are reading
questions or writing answers, and you may have trouble
concentrating on the test
 Physical symptoms: headaches, stomach aches, nausea, diarrhea,
sweating, racing heart, shortness of breath, etc.
 Mental blocks: you may be unable to remember the information
you studied, unable to answer the questions
What Causes Test Anxiety?
 Previous negative experiences with tests:
 Students who have failed in the past may feel they will fail again
 Lack of preparation for the exam may cause students to “forget” the
material during a test:
 Poor study skills, poor note-taking skills, and poor time management can
lead to a false sense of confidence on a test
 Perfectionism:
 Places stress on the student to be perfect, anything less than an A is not
acceptable - this is not realistic, and results in a fear of failure
 “If I fail this test, then I’ll fail this class, then I won’t graduate on time, I
won’t get that job, and my life will be over!”
 Don’t “catastrophize!” Negative thinking creates anxiety.
Symptoms of Test Anxiety
 I study hard but I get confused when I’m taking a test
 Study effectively: review notes daily, review notebooks weekly, make the
material meaningful to you, and quiz yourself when studying.
 I can’t sleep before a test – then I’m exhausted and I fail
 Plan your time carefully: study throughout the semester, not just the night
before the test, learn to relax yourself, and have good sleep habits
throughout the semester.
 I can’t stay focused on the test – my mind wanders
 Take a brief break, close your eyes, tense and relax your muscles,
breathing deeply, and get back to the test. If permitted, take a walk down
the hall, drink some water, and get back to the test.
Avoid Negative Thinking!
 Examples of negative thinking:
 “Why should I spend time studying? I never do well no matter
how much I study. “
 “My sister is the smart one in the family. I can’t do this.”
 “I can’t let my parents down.”
 “I always remember the answers after I turn in my test.”
 Negative thoughts create anxiety. Stay positive, be prepared, and
encourage yourself along the way. Have a positive support system
with friends and family who help you succeed.
Study Effectively to Avoid Anxiety
 Study where you can concentrate – avoid distractions and interruptions
from TV, internet, phone, family, and friends
 Study in the same place – keep school supplies stocked up so you don’t
have to stop to look for something you need
 Use good lighting – straining your eyes can make them tired
 Use a desk or table – try not to study on a comfortable sofa or bed as it is
too easy to nod off to sleep
 Take a nap – you will study better when you are rested
Study Effectively to Avoid Anxiety
 Use flashcards
 Make charts, timelines, graphs
 Attend all classes, and always “be present” in class
 Ask questions, listen for important notes
 Get help, ask questions
 Eat well and sleep well throughout the semester
Plan Effectively to Avoid Anxiety
 Keep notes organized
 Review notes soon after class, and before class, and at least once
a week
 Keep a calendar with test dates and deadlines
 Schedule several short review sessions, rather than one long
“cram” session
 Schedule some free time, to re-energize
Good Test-Taking Skills
 For short-answer question:
 Budget your time: keep an eye on the clock – don’t spend too much
time on one answer
 Do easy questions first: skip a question if you have to think about it or if
it has you puzzled
 Look for clues in the question: words like “define” or “describe”
 Answer each question: even if you can not answer the question
completely, write what you know – writing may spark your memory
 Use the full time allowed: if you finish before time is up, go back and
review your test to make sure you’ve answered all the questions, fix
errors or add information
Good Test-Taking Skills
 For essay questions
 Read all questions first – so you can answer the “easier” questions
first, and plan your time carefully
 Organize your ideas – make a diagram or outline on scratch paper
before you start writing your essay answers
 Start with the easiest question – write your answers to the “easier”
questions first to get them out of the way
 Proof read at the end – when you are done, read through you’re
answers to make sure your answers make sense, and edit any errors
Good Test-Taking Skills
 For standardized tests
 Get a study guide and review it daily for weeks before the exam
 Be realistic – there may be some questions you can not answer
 Make an educated guess
 Eliminate choices you KNOW are wrong
 Look for clues in remaining choices
 For standardized, multiple choice, matching exams
 Solve in the order given, some questions may relate to previous questions
on the test
Read each choice carefully and make sure you understand the question
Think as you read – make sure understand what is being asked
Narrow your choices or make an educated guess
Finish the exam – keep an eye on the clock and make sure you answer all
the questions
Learn to Control Your Anxiety
 Keep your thoughts and your mood positive.
 “I can do this”
“I’m ready for this.”
“I know this.”
 Use your imagination in a positive way
 imagine yourself calm, in control, winning, etc.
 Use relaxation when you feel yourself becoming anxious
 Breathe deeply, tighten muscles and then relax them
 Close your eyes and imagine you are in a peaceful/happy place
 Close your eyes, breathe deeply, slowly, focusing on each breath
 Relaxation techniques can be used
 To help you sleep before a big day
 As a refresher between classes or studying
 To help you re-focus during a test
 Learn to relax
Deal with Pressure
 Before the pressure builds and anxiety is a problem
 Visit VGCC counseling services: meet with a counselor to discuss
your concerns (counseling at VGCC is free and confidential )
 Talk to your peers: spend time talking about your problems or
worries with trusted friends who have a positive influence
 Talk to your instructors: let them know about your concerns, check
on your progress, and get advice about succeeding in class
 Talk to your parent, a family member, or spouse: everyone needs a
support system at home to be successful in school
Anxiety Isn’t All Bad
 Keep in mind, that some level of anxiety is actually a good
thing in our lives. A little bit of anxiety, helps us get things
done, do our best, reach our goals, and even avoid danger.
 But, when anxiety becomes overwhelming or gets in the way
of our normal day-to-day activities, it can have a negative
impact on our lives, at home, at work, in class, on tests, etc.
 Learn to manage your anxiety effectively.
 Learn to relax and put things in perspective.
Take Steps to Beat Test Anxiety
 Study effectively and really learn the material
 Learn efficient test-taking strategies
 Use relaxation techniques
 Be prepared
 View our other presentations on
 Study Skills
 Note-taking Skills
 Time Management
 Stress Management
Read More About Relaxation Techniques
 http://helpguide.org/mental/stress_relief_meditat
 http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-
 http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/relaxation-
More Information on Test Anxiety
 http://www.studygs.net/tstprp8.htm
 http://www.how-to-study.com/study-
 http://www.testanxietytips.com/

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