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Dealing with Test Anxiety

Most people feel some level of anxiety before taking an important test. This is normal. However, for some people, test anxiety interferes with their ability to either study for the test or to perform according to their abilities while taking the test.


Test anxiety can cause either physical or mental symptoms, or both and can be caused by a number of different factors.


Physical Symptoms


Physical symptoms of test anxiety include:


Nausea or upset stomach

Stomach cramps

Racing heartbeat


Perspiring or sweating

Tense muscles


Mental Symptoms


Mental symptoms of test anxiety interfere with the ability to take the test or to study for the test according to your ability. Some of the ways this occurs include:


Blanking out and forgetting knowledge you previously learned

Inability to organize thoughts

Difficulty understanding questions

Making careless mistakes

Forgetting key concepts

Reading material over several times without understanding

Inability to concentrate or focus while studying


Strategies to Help with Test Anxiety


Test anxiety, many times, is irrational. For most people, once they study for the test and have the ability to complete the test, a passing grade should be possible. Test anxiety can occur for several different reasons and strategies for coping with this type of anxiety would depend on why someone may become extremely nervous during test situations.


1)      You feel nervous because you don’t know about the test.


This most often happens on standardized tests. The test may be unknown and therefore scary. For these tests, information is normally available. The tester can find out basic information, such as; the number of questions, the form of the questions (multiple choice, etc), subject matter included in the test, and how the test is scored. This type of information can provide a small level of confidence to the tester. In addition, some standardized tests provide sample questions or preparation booklets to help you learn about the test.


2)      You tell yourself you will do poorly on the test.

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