is described as "an unpleasant feeling or emotional state that has physiological and behavioral components, and that is experienced in formal testing or other situations of evaluation."
Test anxiety has direct debilitating effects on school performance. It's easy to confuse lack of preparation (which can cause difficulty) with real test anxiety. The most common sign of test anxiety is freezing up during the test... when you know the answer but can't get it out. Maybe the words suddenly stop making sense, even though you know the topic inside-out. Maybe you know that you know the answer, but just can't remember it. Or maybe you're having problems learning anything in preparation for the test.
Test anxiety is more common than most students realize, and the symptoms are the same for almost all students who experience it.
- Heart pounding
- Tense muscles
- Cold and clammy hands
- Feeling anxious
- Can't concentrate
- Feeling faint and nauseated
The physical aspects of test anxiety are biological, consisting of hormonal, chemical, and muscular changes in the body. The by-product of this condition is interference with the thinking process. When the physical symptoms are present, basic thinking processes like remembering, analyzing, and problem solving are affected. That is the reason that students who experience test anxiety feel that their brain is just not working right.
The biological state of fear or anxiety occurs in response to a perceived threat. The purpose of this biological reaction is to keep the body vigilant, ready to run or fight if necessary. This is what is known as the "fight or flight" response, which is a psychological reaction that occurs in the presence of something that is terrifying, either mentally or physically. The "fight or flight" response can be triggered due to both real and imaginary threats. A person's natural reaction is to run away from, or avoid a perceived threat. This is not possible in the classroom, and being required to remain in the presence of a perceived threat (the test) can only increase the symptoms. The physical symptoms and anxiety become a vicious cycle from which the person cannot escape. If the anxiety becomes too great, a person's brain will in effect shut down. This is the body's way of dealing with an intolerably high level of stress that cannot be removed.Where Does It Begin?
Different theorists believe that test anxiety emerges for some children during the pre-school or elementary school years, when parents begin to make unrealistic demands or hold overly high expectations for their children's performance. The parents then react negatively to their children's failure to meet their expectations, and the children in turn become fearful of evaluation in achievement situations and overly concerned about adult reaction to their academic successes and failures.
As a child gets older, he or she may wish to rank in the top of the class or attain higher grades. This can be a result of parental, peer, or self-induced aspirations and expectations. This will place many students under strong pressure to achieve at a higher and higher level, which can result in "test anxiety" especially in our highly competitive educational system and society. And, this pressure only increases with age, well into adulthood.
Theories further suggest that anxious children are more sensitive to failure and react more to evaluation from adults than low-anxious children. More specifically, high-anxious children have strong motives to avoid criticism and failure because they fear negative evaluation. In contrast, low-anxious children are relatively more motivated to approach success and obtain praise since they do not have as much of a fear of failure.
These different motivational patterns have important behavioral consequences. Low-anxious children are more likely to choose, persist in, and enjoy the challenge of evaluative situations; be less concerned with adult reaction to their performance; and strive to do well on relatively difficult tasks. In contrast, high-anxious children try, if at all possible, to avoid highly evaluative situations and are overly concerned with adult evaluation.Help for Test Anxiety
Although you may think you have always had test anxiety, you were not born with it! Test anxiety is very real and extremely self-defeating, but it is not an insurmountable disease. The good news for students who experience test anxiety is that it can be easily conquered if one is willing to follow some guidelines and practice a very simple, yet very effective technique. Research shows that when students have tools and strategies that build both emotional skills and healthy physical habits, overcoming test anxiety and its associated symptoms is attainable. As a result, they improve their ability to prepare for and perform on exams.The PowerTapping Technique
When you have the right tool, any job is made easier. Talking about the problem only makes it worse in the long run. Even in the short term talking about the issue only brings out the chattering monkeys - you know, the “voices of doubt” in your head. They are so familiar that as soon as you hear them you believe them and behave as usual. Changing this takes more than will power. In fact, will power is a pretty ineffective tool for change. What you need is a set of tools that will erase the underlying beliefs that, when triggered, produce undesired results like freezing up on a test or choking at a tryout.
technique is the best, most effective tool you can have in your toolbox. It combines the eastern model of addressing health issues and western cognitive therapies. PowerTapping at first seems odd, using your fingers to tap on points over the face, body and hands. It seems so simple you might immediately dismiss it as too simplistic to be effective until you try it. That's when your mind starts to shift; in fact you actually feel a difference after tapping for the first time. It has an immediate impact that's undeniable. Imagine spending 10 minutes two times per day for five days doing PowerTapping and realizing you no longer feel anxious about taking tests. As you prepare you automatically think and feel you'll do well on the test. No more second-guessing if you will remember everything, or if you studied enough, or if the teacher will try to trip you up with tricky questions. All this is replaced with confidence in your ability to stay calm when taking tests. It sounds crazy and almost impossible . . . yet after tapping for the first time it feels very real and very possible!
In my book, I present you with the tools necessary (the what, when and how) to purge the beliefs that sabotage your efforts which are keeping you from achieving the results you so desire; and in turn set up beliefs that trigger automatic responses that will produce the outcomes you're working so hard to achieve. This is about having choices. You can continue to struggle, relying on willpower to get you through - you know, doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. You can talk about it with a counselor and better understand your anxiety, then go to class with that knot still in your stomach and try to do well on the test. Or, you can try "tapping it out" and put to rest the anxiety and worry forever. That's how tapping works. When you make the decision to try tapping, you'll be amazed at the results!Cited Sources
University of Alabama Center for Academic Success http://www.ctl.ua.edu/ctlstudyaids/studyskillsflyers/testpreparation/whatcausestestanxiety.htm
The University of Chicago - The Elementary School Journal http://www.rcgd.isr.umich.edu/garp/articles/hill84.pdf
University of Alabama at Birmingham http://main.uab.edu/Sites/student-success/resources/33078/
Psychology and Modern Life http://www.wadsworth.com/psychology_d/templates/student_resources/0155060678_rathus/pml/pml02.html