Test Anxiety

What is Test Anxiety?

Test anxiety is where one experiences extreme discomfort or stress, and anxiety in test situations, or similar situations such as presentations, big games in sports, and other important moments in life.

Causes of Test Anxiety:

  • Fear of failing a test/exam. This is quite common, especially if one struggles with the particular subject being tested, or does not have full confidence about the particular subject.
  • Did not have enough time to prepare or simply chose not to prepare for a test/exam. This can come from forgetting the date of the test/exam, having other subjects to study for on top of the one they are being tested on, or saving the studying until the last minute.
  • Done poorly on prior tests/exams in a certain subject or overall. This normally results from struggling with the material of a certain subject, despite the amount of time put in to study, or lack of tutoring when it is needed.

Symptoms of Test Anxiety:

  • Behavioural/Cognitive symptoms such as the following: Avoidance of testing situations, fidgeting, lack of concentration, negative self-talk, and racing thoughts. There have been severe cases to the point where one drops out of school in order to avoid testing situations, and substance abuse in the form of depressants such as alcohol and prescription medications in order to deal with their anxiety.
  • Emotional symptoms such as the following: Anger, belittlement of oneself, depression, feeling of hopelessness, and low self-esteem.
  • Physical symptoms such as the following: Dry mouth, fainting, nausea, rapid heartbeat, shaking, and sweating.

What is Anxiety as a whole?

Anxiety is known as the feeling of apprehension and fear, characterized by symptoms such as palpitations, sweating, and feelings of stress. It is normally triggered as a response to a future or possible threat and they are classified as normal evolved responses in all humans and animals. Physical responses of anxiety are linked to what is known as the "fight or flight" system.

"Fight or Flight" Response:

Response to a threat to survival based on physical changes (ex. endocrine and nervous changes) that prepare a human or animal to react or retreat depending on the situation.

For more information, check out this booklet with information on test anxiety.