A student with a simple case of nerves, soon to dissipate once the test starts is the norm. But when the anxiety has a greater effect on the grade than preparation, the student can have a problem. A person struggling with severe test anxiety cannot focus on the information they have worked to learn on test day; instead, they are enduring headaches, increased heart rate, rapid breathing and maybe a panic attack. These are the symptoms of an anxiety disorder. Test anxiety can have the emotional components of feeling angry, helpless, or like crying or laughing. A person experiencing these anxiety symptoms finds organizing their thoughts and following information being presented to them impossible to process, the necessary skills to successfully take a test.
Advice has been created to help students avoid reaching the need to treat test anxiety. Some suggestions are to practice deep breathing and muscle relaxation techniques, as well as, reminding one’s self that uncertainty about one question does decide the entire grade. Students struggling in a specific test should stay positive and not spend an excessive amount of time on a hard-to-answer question. Before the test day, plan ahead of time how to best prepare and take each test.
Some sufferers have benefited from the self-help of testing themselves on the material to assure them they are well-prepared. According to some experts, feelings of stress are a result of a lack of oxygen in the brain and can be alleviated by taking deep breaths. In addition, students can make a point of taking care of themselves by getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising, and mixing study with relaxing and fun activities. The night before the exam one should make sure all necessary supplies are ready and get a enough sleep. Arrive at the test location in plenty of time to get settled. When taking the test the student should take his/her time, read all of the instructions, and don’t let other things become a distraction. When, in spite of one’s efforts stress sets in, stop briefly to stretch and/or take a few deep breaths to relax.
Treating this form of anxiety can benefit from professional help. One method is to desensitize the sufferers by helping them experience test taking while using relaxation techniques to ease their stress. Some sufferers respond to talk therapy that helps them alter their frame of mind.