Mastering Test Anxiety: 5 Proven Strategies for Success in Exams

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Many students experience stress or anxiety before a test. In fact, research has proven that being a little nervous before a test can actually optimize an individual’s performance. However, when the stress/anxiety becomes so excessive that it actually interferes with an individual’s test performance, it’s referred to as test anxiety.

Test anxiety is a psychological condition in which students experience extreme distress and anxiety during testing situations. While many students experience some degree of stress and anxiety before and during tests, test anxiety can actually impair learning and hurt an individual’s test performance.

How To Recognize That Your Child Suffers from Test Anxiety?

Common Symptoms (According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America)

Mild Symptoms

Increased heart rate, breathing and sweating.

Butterflies in the stomach due to nervousness.

Excessive worry and negative thoughts regarding performance.

Blanking out on the test, even tho they studied the test material.

Difficulty concentrating or recalling information.

Severe Symptoms

Nausea and feeling faint.

Headaches and stomachaches.

Full blown panic attack.

Avoidance of testing situations due to fear.

All these symptoms may prevent the student from thinking clearly or concentrating on the test, thus inhibiting their performance.

Causes of Test Anxiety

For many students test anxiety is caused by a combination of things. Potential causes of test anxiety include:

A history of poor testing outcomes.

Being unprepared – not studying enough for the test.

Being afraid of failure.

Comparing your performance to the rest of the class.

Self doubt – believing that you’re not a good test taker.

5 best strategies to cope with test anxiety.

Effective Study Techniques

The appropriate use of study methods is essential to fight test anxiety. Divide the study contents into short units, arrange a flexible schedule for studying and try using active tactics of learning such as flashcards and thematic summarization. These strategies not only increase knowledge, but also help build confidence in your readiness.

Time Management

Planning for a good study outline and prudent time management are considered factors that one must have to relieve test anxiety. Create an effective schedule to cover every topic before the exam, prioritize tasks based on importance, and avoid last-minute cramming. Because procrastination may increase stress, only a proactive, positive attitude will enable composure in the exam.

Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques

The implementation of mindfulness and relaxation strategies into your daily regimen will reduce test stress considerably. Performing deep breath exercises for relaxation of the nervous system should help relax the body. Progressive muscle relaxation techniques that involve tensing and relaxing your muscles can help release physical tension, stress and anxiety. Incorporating these techniques may help to reduce stress levels and improve concentration and focus.

Positive Self-Talk

Another effective defense strategy from test anxiety is our ability to change the negative thoughts into affirmations. Confront self-doubt by replacing it with memories of former success and talents. Aspects like visualizing success and focusing on personal strengths can help to foster a positive mindset and increase confidence before a test.

Goal Setting

One strategy for controlling test anxiety is to dissect long-term goals into respective short-term milestones. Celebrate every success – no matter how small it is – to stay motivated and help boost your confidence. When we establish realistic goals and understand that perfection is not the end-all be-all of examinations, we develop a better way of looking at tests.

Professional Help

For those who continue to struggle with test anxiety after trying support strategies, seeking professional help may be required. Counselors and psychologists could assist with anxiety management by using cognitive behavioral therapy to show individuals how to make realistic objectives. Other academic support programs may also be able to assess the best way of improving test preparation and overall health. Remember, asking for help is a sign of strength not weakness!

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