Test Anxiety: It’s a Real Thing. Do You Need Therapy?

Being in college is hard and fun, but still hard. It is a lot of work. Sometimes it can be more difficult than we expect such as when we are taking tests. Taking tests is not the most enjoyable thing to do for anyone, but for some people, it can be downright scary. It is, in fact, a real disorder. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, test anxiety affects up to 40% of all students.

What Is Test Anxiety?

Test anxiety is a condition that causes extreme feelings of stress and fear when you are in testing situations. While it is true that just about anyone gets a bit nervous or anxious when facing a testing situation, some people have such a reaction that it can cause physical and mental symptoms that can really hurt their performance. Some of the symptoms of test anxiety include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Intestinal upset such as nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting
  • Shaking
  • Fast heart rate
  • Feeling light-headed
  • Fainting
  • Extreme fear
  • Anxious
  • Helplessness
  • Anger or aggravation
  • Sadness or depression
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Negative thoughts such as feeling you are going to fail

Treatment for Test Anxiety

One of the best ways to beat test anxiety is to be prepared. Study until you feel comfortable with the subject you are studying for. Join a study group. Talk to other people who have the same problem. Being anxious about an exam is a common problem so you should not have trouble finding others with the same issue.

Here are some other tips.

Study Efficiently

Your school may have special classes or strategy techniques that can help you learn the best way to study. It is different for every person, but when you learn from others about what benefits them, you can figure out your own way to study that makes you most comfortable.

Learn everything you can about what will be on the test and how many questions there are, if possible. Find out how much time you have to take the test and whether it is multiple choice or written response.

Have a Pretest Routine

Once you learn what works, do it every single time the exact same way. Just like baseball or football, players have their own pregame ritual. You need to find a routine that makes you feel ready. This will help get rid of some of the stress you are feeling by doing something repetitive that you relate to a positive experience.

Learn Relaxation Techniques and Use Them

Learning how to relax seems like it should be simple, right? Well, it may not be for many people, especially those who have test anxiety. There are ways to relax but it is different for everyone.

Some people use deep breathing, some close their eyes and picture a positive place, others may practice relaxing their muscles one at a time. Meditation is also an excellent way to relax. If you cannot find a way that helps you relax before a test, speak to a therapist or counselor who can help you find what works for you.

Get Plenty of Sleep

It is essential that you take a test when you are feeling rested. If you were up the whole night before, your body is going to be too tired to concentrate, and you will do poorly even if you do not have test anxiety.

Be sure to get at least eight hours of sleep the night before. If you are having trouble sleeping, talk to a therapist or counselor about learning some relaxation techniques or your physician to get medication to help you sleep.

Talk to Someone

If you are having test anxiety and cannot figure out how to relax and get good grades, do talk to someone. There are professional therapists and counselors that can help you with just a phone call. In fact, they are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can call them now.

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