Test Anxiety – It’s Real. Do You Need Therapy?
No matter whether it’s your first test or the last, some degree of anxiety is normal. In fact, some would even argue that a small spike in adrenaline may actually help you focus and study better.
Unfortunately, for many people that small surge of adrenaline can escalate into a much bigger issue. Those suffering from high levels of anxiety may experience symptoms like sweating, racing heart, shaking and nausea as well as difficulty sleeping or feeling overwhelmed with thoughts.
Test anxiety can have a significant impact on a student’s test-taking performance, particularly for those required to take them for their degree. On average, students with test anxiety score about 12 percentile points lower than similar-aged students who don’t suffer from anxiety.
If your test anxiety is severe, you may be eligible for accommodations. These could include more time to finish a test or having the room where the exam will be taken changed. In other cases, your professor may give an alternate assignment in lieu of taking the test.
It’s essential to note, though, that not everyone who experiences test anxiety requires therapy. In some cases, cognitive-based strategies or other behavioral changes may help reduce symptoms and boost test-taking confidence.
Test anxiety can be caused by several factors.
Some students who experience high levels of anxiety may believe that a poor grade on a test will reflect negatively on them and/or their intelligence. This mindset can be reinforced by external pressure such as parents or teachers having high expectations for performance.
Another possible explanation for test anxiety is a lack of preparation. You might not know the material well or have put off studying too long.
Other people may have a history of poor test performance or have struggled with it in the past. This can cause negative thought patterns and an endless cycle of anxiety.
The best way to manage anxiety is to recognize when it begins and then do your best to manage it. Utilizing relaxation techniques and avoiding negative thinking will help alleviate your worries.
It is essential to recognize that your anxiety does not have to dictate your life. There are various strategies you can employ before, during, and after tests to combat anxiety so you have more control over how you respond.
People suffering from high levels of anxiety should seek therapy to manage their symptoms and enhance test-taking performance. They may need to learn about cognitive strategies and emotional coping skills, as well as working on self-esteem or believing in one’s own abilities.
A trained therapist can guide you through these processes and may also suggest alternative accommodations for your test anxiety.
Finally, a therapist can suggest a treatment plan tailored to your individual needs and objectives. With so many resources available for managing anxiety, it’s essential that you seek out professional help if you are struggling with high levels of tension.