Who Gets Test Anxiety?
People who have anxiety in their family or who already have other forms of anxiety are more likely to have test anxiety
Anxiety does seem to have genetic components, so anyone predisposed to anxiety may get jittery when it comes to testing. Anyone who has been traumatized by a bad testing experience may also suffer from test anxiety.
Our brains remember traumas very well. People can develop a belief that 'I'm just a bad test taker' — once you have that belief in place, it can be self-perpetuating.
Causes of Test Anxiety
Test anxiety is actually very common. Why exactly does it happen? A number of factors can cause test anxiety, including but not limited to:
Managing Test Anxiety
You can overcome it!
First you have to address what's happening physiologically. Since people are daunted by the ideas of their bodies acting up, it distracts them from the cognitive thought process.
To combat the physical stress that test anxiety can cause, learn some relaxation strategies.
Progressive muscle relaxation, which involves relaxing your entire body from your head to your toes, along with deep, slow breathing, can help your body relax and your racing heart slow to a more normal pace.
It's also important to face your fears head-on. If you move toward the thing that makes you anxious, your confidence goes up and your anxiety goes down.
Conversely, the more you avoid it, the more your anxiety kicks into gear.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to be completely prepared, though that doesn't mean an all-night cramming session (which could backfire if you don’t get enough sleep). So start studying, and don't avoid it because of fear. If you're prepared, that's going to have a lot to do with test anxiety. It's also important to look at a test as what it is — it's just one test, a piece of paper — it doesn't define the rest of your life.
If you know test anxiety can strike you, have a game plan and implement it. Get your attention off yourself and onto the test — focus away from unpleasant sensations.
Sweep the bad thoughts away and conquer that test today!
More Tips on overcoming test anxiety
How to do Deep Breathing Exercises
Sit up straight. (Do not arch your back) First exhale completely through your mouth. Place your hands on your stomach, just above your waist. Breathe in slowly through your nose, pushing your hands out with your stomach. This ensures that you are breathing deeply. Imagine that you are filling your body with air from the bottom up.
Hold your breath to a count of two to five, or whatever you can handle. It is easier to hold your breath if you continue to hold out your stomach. Slowly and steadily breathe out through your mouth, feeling your hands move back in as you slowly contract your stomach, until most of the air is out. Exhalation is a little longer than inhalation.
After you get some experience you don’t need to use your hands to check your breathing.
You can also do the above breathing exercise lying on your back. Deep breathing exercises can help you to relax before you go to sleep for the night, or fall back asleep if you awaken in the middle of the night.
You can also practice deep breathing exercises standing – e.g. while sitting in traffic, or standing in a lineup at the grocery store. If you are really tense and feel as if you are holding your breath, simply concentrate on slowly breathing in and out.
Progressive muscle relaxation for stress relief
Progressive muscle relaxation involves a two-step process in which you systematically tense and relax different muscle groups in the body.
With regular practice, progressive muscle relaxation gives you an intimate familiarity with what tension—as well as complete relaxation—feels like in different parts of the body. This awareness helps you spot and counteract the first signs of the muscular tension that accompanies stress. And as your body relaxes, so will your mind. You can combine deep breathing with progressive muscle relaxation for an additional level of stress relief.
Practicing progressive muscle relaxation
Before practicing Progressive Muscle Relaxation, consult with your doctor if you have a history of muscle spasms, back problems, or other serious injuries that may be aggravated by tensing muscles.
Most progressive muscle relaxation practitioners start at the feet and work their way up to the face. For a sequence of muscle groups to follow, see the box below.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation Sequence
The most popular sequence runs as follows:
* If you are left-handed you may want to begin with your left foot instead.
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