Imagine that you walk into a final exam for the easiest class you’ve taken all semester. You feel exceptionally confident because you received top marks on every quiz, term paper, and presentation. Further, you dedicated countless hours to studying so that you can eviscerate this final. You sit down on test day, and suddenly your palms begin to sweat. You panic, your stomach flips, and you can’t remember a single concept from this semester.
Test anxiety isn’t a rare occurrence; it can affect any student regardless of intellect. Continue reading to learn ways to manage test anxiety before and during a stressful final exam.
Test anxiety refers to a psychological condition in which the feeling of distress before an exam becomes so intense that it impedes one’s performance. From pop-up quizzes to final examinations, some test-taking anxiety is a normal part of school; but when does it become a cause for alarm? According to the Yerkes-Dodson Law – which suggests a link between arousal levels and performance – once stress levels reach a certain threshold, this anxiety can cause even the most well-prepared student to draw a blank.
Causes of test anxiety include environmental factors, such as a poor testing history or fear of failure, or biological factors, referring to the rush of adrenaline the body releases to aid in its “fight-or-flight” response during a stressful situation. That adrenaline is helpful in most cases, but the physical effects of the hormone, such as sweating and nausea, can exacerbate feelings of anxiety.
According to Mental Health America, final exam week is the “most stressful time of the semester.” As students approach the precipice, staying on top of grades is of utmost importance. But, coupled with test anxiety, hours of studying, and the general hectic nature of the time period, tackling finals can become difficult to handle mentally.
Students can fall into the trap of self-deprecation and burnout by basing self-worth on grades. Another common phenomenon, called “imposter syndrome,” describes the feeling of doubting one’s abilities in a high-achieving setting. Students may feel tempted to tell themselves that they aren’t fit for academia. This pressure and feeling of worthlessness can lead students to neglect their physical and mental well-being.
While performing well during final exams should remain a priority, listening to mental and physical needs always comes first. By indulging in self-care considering one’s needs before all else, students can ace finals without the mental strain.
Students often belittle themselves for not holding late-night study sessions or failing to juggle multiple responsibilities. Students must remember that they are not test-taking machines; humans make mistakes. By allocating time for ample rest and taking it easier on themselves, students can complete more tasks after some much-needed rest.
We all learned how isolation negatively impacted mental health during the Covid lockdowns. So forming a connection with a classmate or study buddy can help students mitigate any unwanted stress or anxiety. Students can stay connected and productive while studying by working in groups, grabbing a meal with a friend, or giving parents a call after a long day.
When it comes to grades, students place way too much pressure on themselves. Well-being matters so much more than a grade on a paper. By shifting one’s mindset to the view that education is a journey and a privilege to access, mistakes can become part of the learning process. Try to move away from the idea that grades and academic performance define self-worth.
In reality, planning is half the battle. Instead of leaving all due dates and exam times for the brain to remember on its own, create a game plan to block out a schedule and visually represent pending tasks. In doing this, students can see what they have left to tackle and prioritize assignments with closer due dates.
If a student struggle with test anxiety, try to physically regulate the symptoms they may experience by getting enough sleep and practicing breathing exercises. Make sure the material is familiar and become comfortable using test prep resources. If symptoms become severe, consider reaching out to a school counselor or doctor for extra support in managing stress.
It may seem near-impossible to internalize the notion that finals aren’t the be-all-end-all. Students must understand how stress and anxiety can cloud judgment, making it harder to believe reassuring words. Need help managing intense testing anxiety? Earn a confidence boost with one of Test Prep Score’s online tutors. Good luck with your finals, and may the curve be in your favor!