You may have paid attention in class, taken detailed notes, and even attended extra study sessions, so you should do great on that big test coming up, right? When the test is presented, you may instead, blank out thinking about the answers, look at other students to see what they’re doing and assume that they’re having a much easier time, or feel jittery and even faint. If this sounds familiar to you, then you might be suffering from something called, test anxiety.
Test anxiety is a form of performance anxiety and can also exist when giving a presentation or any other activity that creates pressure to perform. Although a little nervousness is common while taking a test or exam, test anxiety can cause fear and distress that can actually decrease test performance and impair learning.
Thankfully you can develop strategies to stave off the symptoms. Visualize yourself taking the test in a calm and relaxed state. Doing this over and over again can expose you to the cause of your anxiety in a safe environment and will desensitize your midbrain so it will no longer perceive danger. Try thinking of the test as an opportunity to show what you know rather than highlight what you don’t know. Remember, the examiner wants you to pass. Ask yourself, How many tests have you taken previously? How many have you passed? Probably almost all of them.Lastly, don’t be afraid to seek help. If you’re having a difficult time working through your anxiety on your own, don’t hesitate to see a therapist who specializes in anxiety disorders. Performance and test anxiety are highly treatable, and you can absolutely get better!
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