Test Anxiety : What it is and how to deal with it
Updated: Oct 1, 2022
Tests are a part of our lives. Not just as students taking exams to see how much we have learned in certain subject areas. We also take tests in getting a license, apply for a job, measure our IQ, and many more. These tests are used to measure our skills, knowledge, and capabilities, to find out if we are fit for the role we are applying for.
In light of the recent board examinations, many new licensed professionals have successfully finished one of the most important exams of their lives. In taking major exams such as this, we must be physically, emotionally, mentally, and intellectually prepared and in our best condition.
Passing the board examination will take you to the next step of your career, and failing the board exam will set you back for another year until you can apply for your license again. Since the result of this examination will greatly impact the lives of its takers, it is unavoidable to experience test anxiety. The pressure from yourself and others may be overwhelming.
Test anxiety, as the name suggests, is a type of performance anxiety that is experienced before, during, or after a test or examination. This can affect the students’ concentration and performance. The two kinds of exam anxiety are rational anxiety and irrational anxiety. The former is anxiousness due to poor study habits while the latter is when a student feels nervous about taking an exam. (India, 2020)
Students with low anxiety still feel slight pressure or anxiousness towards an upcoming exam, but they can remain focused on studying. However, those with extreme exam anxiety can interfere with their capability to memorize and recall concepts, which can lead to poor performance in the examination.
Test anxiety can manifest itself physically, mentally, or both. Physically, this would be sweating, shaking, erratic heartbeat, bodily tension, headache, or stomachache. Mentally, this would be trouble in focusing or concentrating, intrusive thoughts and worries, irritability, and a sense of hopelessness.
Test anxiety may also be a result of past experiences with examinations. Failure in previous tests may lower our self-confidence. Anxiety and lowered self-image may also be caused by poor study habits and procrastination. It may also be caused by the expectations that are set upon us. Studies also show that constructive feedback in an exam enhances learning and improvement, so receiving the opposite of this may result in test anxiety.
To overcome test anxiety, you must establish good study habits that can help to boost your confidence in taking the exam. Create a routine that will allow you to study efficiently. If you are confident that you have reviewed everything that you need, then you can assure yourself that there is nothing to be afraid of. You can also ask your friends and family for support in case the pressure or anxiety is overwhelming.
It is also a very important factor that you take care of yourself well, weeks or even months before the examination. Your physical health is just as important as your mental health. Make sure you get proper rest, exercise, and diet.
Practice tips and approaches for certain types of tests so you can use them to your advantage. Combine suggestions and techniques that you can use to increase your test score while decreasing your test anxiety. During the exam, you must also know how to relax your body from tension. Breathe deeply and remind yourself that you are in control. Your mindset also matters. Instead of expecting failure, aspire for success.
Above all, do your best. Do it with all your heart and soul. Regardless of the result, it is already an accomplishment in itself that you got the guts to take the exam. You can always try again next year. Never lose hope.
Mental Health PH. (2021, March 25). Taking Exams during the Pandemic.
Wadi, M., Yusoff, MSB., Abdul Rahim, A.F., et al. (2022, January 6). Factors affecting test anxiety: a qualitative analysis of medical students’ views. BMC Psychology. https://bmcpsychology.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40359-021-00715-2
Mashayekh, M., Hashemi, M. (2011, December 27). Recognizing, Reducing, and Coping with Test Anxiety: Causes, Solutions and Recommendations. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877042811022427