Dealing with Test Anxiety

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Dealing with Test Anxiety

Ashley Metzbower, Staff

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Many students experience worry before taking a  test, but what really is test anxiety? 

Test anxieties are the most predominant scholastic impairment in schools today. They cause people to freeze completely before taking a test, leading to a decline in overall performance and lower test scores. According to the American Test Anxieties Association, around 16-20% of students have high test anxiety plus another 18% have moderately-high test anxiety. 

On an Instagram vote, 21% of one hundred fifty-eight CHS students said they don’t get anxious taking tests, while the other 79% said they do feel anxious taking tests.  

Now how can it be helped? 

Sometimes building confidence with outside test preparations can help. 

Sylvan Learning of Catonsville offers “Full Study Skills Programs.”  

“Sylvan offers an ‘a la carte’ program, meaning you can choose from their topics, such as goal setting, time management & organization, test taking, and many more,” center director Kristin Kalmuexplained. 

Prices are determined based on how many topics are chosen.  

On the Mayo Clinic website, Craig N. Sawchuk, Ph.D., L.P. stated ways to prepare oneself before the test to reduce anxieties. He suggests learning how to study efficiently, which will help to feel more relaxed if what is being studied is the material that will be on a test. Figure out what works best before actually taking the test, and then stick to that routine. This will ease stress level and help ensure the student is well-prepared.  

There are also many natural remedies for test anxiety. 

The most common and easiest to do anywhere would be deep breathing. Concentrating on the breathing itself, in and out of the lungs with long deep breaths takes the mind away from the stress of a test. 

Yoga helps a lot of people learn how to breathe to release those tensions in a deeper way because some people hold nerves in their muscles. Meditation is a practiced activity, requiring a lot of focus on a natural, peaceful scenario, removing the mind from test taking stressors. 

There are many ways students can to lessen anxiousness while taking the test. 

“I just reread the questions which either makes me more anxious or helps me to understand the question better,” stated sophomore Ellie Cooper. 

Don’t rush it and take it slow. 

“I usually sing a little song in my head for 30-40 seconds and then go back to the test,” exclaimed junior Marciss Lawson. 

A small distraction from the task at hand can help to reduce the test anxiety because it can help to not overthink it, being that another thing is on the mind not just the test. 

In an online survey on how CHS students cope with anxiousness before tests, many said music helps them. 

“I cope by blocking out everything and disassociating by listening to my favorite artists,” responded freshman Megan Kehrman. 

Sophomore Alex Kaplan also claimed “music, listening to stand-up, taking breaks for exercise, and unhealthy eating habits” help him cope with test anxiety. 

Health plays a big role for the body and anxiety as well. It has been proven that exercise is an amazing release of anxieties and energy. Drink plenty of water and stay away from drinks high in sugar, which can actually increase anxiety. Eating the right foods with folate, magnesium, omega-3d, and B-12, or even supplements, can lessen mental burdens. Foods such as leafy greens, avocado, citrus fruit, whole grains, and salmon are perfect additions to mental diet.  

Erin Jones, a counselor at Alternative Counseling in Ellicott City explained, “A diffusor with a few drops or a cotton ball with a few drops of your favorite essential oil, sitting on top of your desk will both give you calming results (for test preparation).”  

Also, she said how important getting enough sleep is for the psyche. It is directly connected to academic performance. 

Colleges, where students are often independent for the first time, offer many resources to help students manage anxiety. 

On University of Maryland College Park’s website there is a huge section on “Test Taking Strategies”. There are group counseling services and peer institution websites from universities all over the country with very effective information from other students going through the same exact thing. Their Psychology Department also offers online academic success resources. 

Most importantly, it’s best to realize there are others struggling too. Self-confidence can help with test taking skills as well as most areas in life. Ask for help. And remember to breathe.