Test anxiety – the chest tightens and the heart races. Once they go to take the exam, their mind just draws a blank, said Steve Saladin, a psychologist in University of Idaho”s Counseling and Testing Center.
“Test anxiety is extremely common across campuses – it is a motivator as well as an impairment,” Saladin said. “If you do not have any anxiety you”re basically sleeping.”
Test anxiety is the fear of failing an important exam, which then hinders performance on the actual test.
While it is often seen as negative, test anxiety can have its benefits as well. The anxiety forces action – whether it is to finish an essay or study for finals.
Without the anxiety, Saladin said no one would have the motivation to get anything done. Saladin said it”s natural to feel some test anxiety and it usually comes up around finals.
Saladin said test anxiety starts to become a problem when a student cannot recall information because they are so stressed out.
“We work with students to figure out ways to change their thought patterns. A lot of times anxiety is related to the anticipation of the worst,” Saladin said.
He said research shows that if student writes what they are anxious about before a test, it can reduce the anxiety, possibly helping them score higher marks.
“There are situations where the anxiety can rise to the level of it being a diagnosable condition to the point where it is a phobia,” Saladin said.
Saladin said test anxiety can get so bad that students can have a panic attack before the test and cannot even take the exam. She said students who experience these extreme symptoms should visit the Counseling and Testing Center.
As finals approach, Saladin said students should take the precautionary steps to ensure they will head into finals prepared and ready to take the exam.
Saladin said students can visit the Counseling and Testing Center for help or more information on test anxiety.
Kristen Bertoloni can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org