DEALING WITH TEST ANXIETY back
The University of
Everyone should feel somewhat anxious before they begin to take a test. Anxiety becomes a problem when it begins to interfere with a student's ability to think logically or remember facts. Physical symptoms of real test anxiety include tense muscles, sweaty palms, a pounding heart, and feeling faint or nauseous. Cognitive symptoms include the inability to remember simple things, illogical thinking, and mental blocks.
In dealing with test anxiety one needs to deal with both the physical symptoms and the cognitive or mental aspects of test anxiety. Psychologists recommend certain techniques that have proven to be extremely successful if practiced and used correctly. The key is that these techniques must be practiced ahead of time to really work. There is no magic cure for test anxiety; overcoming it requires practice and persistence.
The relaxation procedure involves systematically tensing and then relaxing different groups of muscles in your body:
If you practice this technique over a period of weeks you will find that it becomes easier and easier to achieve a state of complete relaxation. While you are in a state of complete relaxation you then need to begin to visualize yourself in situations that tend to produce anxiety. For example, while you are relaxed, imagine yourself the night before the test. If this does not produce anxiety, then imagine yourself the morning of the test or walking to the room where the test will be given. If any of these images begins to produce anxiety, you will need to practice your relaxation techniques and calm yourself back down. Eventually you should get to the point where you can imagine yourself actually taking the test while remaining completely relaxed.
This technique has been shown to be better than 90% effective if it is used properly, however, they need to be practiced for several weeks to be really effective. You cannot wait until you experience an episode of test anxiety and then try to relax. It will not work..
2. Attitude and Mental Preparation
What one feels is a by-product of what one thinks. The meaning of an event lies not within the event itself but rather in the interpretation of the event. Test anxiety is not caused by the test but rather by the meaning that the individual attaches to the test. If you mentally tell yourself that you are not going to do well or that you have not studied enough, then you will have an emotional reaction that is consistant with that message. The emotional message will be anxiety because the messages are negative or threatening.
In order to change their thoughts about themselves students must first realize that they do in fact have a negative self image. Before a test do you feel guilty for not having studied enough? Do you feel that others in the class know more than you do? Do you feel that other students seem to get better grades without as much effort? Do you feel you are not really smart enough to succeed at The University of Alabama? If you find that you have subconscious doubts about your ability, or you find yourself thinking negative thoughts before a test, then you need to change your thinking about yourself. In order to have a positive self-image, you need to find things that your can feel positive about. In dealing with test anxiety you have to really feel that you have studied all you can and that you are really prepared for the test. Initially this may mean that you have to study harder than you have ever studied before in order to feel positive about your preparation. You donít want to leave any room for self-doubt to creep in.
3. Real Studying
An effective way to deal with test anxiety in a particular course is to study for a test so thoroughly that there is no way that you can do poorly. This may mean spending two to three times the amount of time and effort studying that you normally spend. If you thoroughly understand everything that might possibly be on the test, your confidence level will be very high and there will not be any room for self-doubt or self-defeating behaviors.
References: (available in the CAS)