Do you feel anxious during exams? Do you find yourself thinking “I really can’t do this?” Does your heart beat faster or does it become hard to breathe during exams?
For most of us, and approaching examination brings about a feeling of a churning stomach and anxiety. In fact, any situation which involves performing a task and the awareness of being evaluated for the performance is an anxiety-provoking situation for most people. Some people are more likely to suffer from exam anxiety than others. So why is this? And what can you do to calm your nerves?
Do You Feel Anxious During Exams? | What Should Do?
At the time of exams, most of the students feel anxious during exams. And it directly affects the result of child. In the case, everyone thinks about what should do to escape from this type of problem. So, don't worry now you are on the proper destination, where you find how to treat anxiety at the time exams from the expert psychologists of My Fit Brain.
Basically exam/test anxiety is the experience of feeling an intense moment of fear or panic before and/or during an exam or assessment.
Types of Anxiety
There are two types of anxiety:
- Low anxiety: Students who experience low anxiety may feel a little nervous about an upcoming exam but are still able to focus their attention on their studies or the questions asked during the assessment. Usually, low anxiety students are not struck with intrusive thoughts or feel debilitated by the exam.
- High anxiety: Students who experience high anxiety show an immediate anxiety reaction when exposed to the feared test situation. They attempt to avoid the situation by not showing up to the exam, or may endure it but with extreme fear. High anxiety can tip some into a sense of panic: “I just really can’t do this!”
- Students with either high or low anxiety can respond to tests in different ways. But managing anxiety effectively can actually help with exam performance.
Symptoms of Test Anxiety
Physical symptoms may include:
- Dry mouth
- Rapid heartbeat usually a heart rate above 100 beats per minute characterizes a rapid heartbeat
- Shortness of breath.
- Extreme body temperature, either excessively hot or cold.
- Gastrointestinal discomfort. This can be characterized by nausea, diarrhoea, bloating, and abdominal pain.
The physical response is usually experienced in high levels of anxiety when the “fight or flight” response is triggered. This is how our bodies respond to a perceived threat – and while uncomfortable, it is not harmful.
Test anxiety can also result in behavioural and cognitive symptoms such as negative thinking and difficulty concentrating.
Cognitive and behavioural symptoms can include:
- Blanking out on answers to the test
- Drop out of school
- Substance abuse can also occur since many students attempt to self-treat their anxiety
- Negative self-talk
- Trouble concentrating on the test
- Racing thoughts
Emotional symptoms of test anxiety can include
Causes of Test/Exam Anxiety
A few potential causes of test anxiety include:
- Poor testing outcomes. If you have done poorly on tests before, either because you didn't study well enough or because you were so anxious, you couldn't remember the answers; this can cause even more anxiety and a negative attitude every time you have to take another test.
- Being unprepared. If you didn't study or didn't study well enough, this can add to your feeling of anxiety.
- Being afraid of failure. If you connect your sense of self-worth to your test scores, the pressure you put on yourself can cause severe test anxiety.
Biological Causes of Test Anxiety
In stressful situations, such as before and during an exam, the body releases a hormone called adrenaline. This helps prepare the body to deal with what is about to happen and is commonly referred to as the "fight-or-flight" response. Essentially, this response prepares you to either stay and deal with the stress or escape the situation entirely. In a lot of cases, this adrenaline rush is actually a good thing. It helps prepare you to deal effectively with stressful situations, ensuring that you are alert and ready.
For some people, however, the symptoms of anxiety they feel can become so excessive that it makes it difficult or even impossible to focus on the test. Symptoms such as nausea, sweating, and shaking hands can actually make people feel even more nervous, especially if they become preoccupied with these test anxiety symptoms.
When Anxiety is useful and when not:
Anxiety can be useful in certain situations - for example, if you are in danger (jumping out of the way of a car). It can also help to increase our attention to the threatening event and improve our response. A certain level of anxiety is definitely essential as it motivates and pushes us to put up our best performance but a high level of anxiety becomes a hurdle in optimum performance and achievement. An anxious individual is highly aroused physiologically and emotionally and hence is not able to perform to the best of her/his abilities.
But it is not so helpful when the threat we are faced with is cognitive, like an exam.
The thoughts involved in exam anxiety usually include negative thinking about performance and/or the physical reaction to thinking about the upcoming exam: “I’m going to fail”, “I quit”, I can’t focus.
Exam anxiety may also interfere with your ability to show your academic and cognitive capabilities. An examination is a potentially stress-provoking situation and like other stressful situations coping involves strategies i.e. Monitoring or taking effective action, and Blunting or avoiding the situation. Monitoring involves taking effective and direct action to deal with the stressful situation.
Management strategies for Anxiety
The following strategies can be used.
- Prepare well: Prepare well for the examination and prepare well in advance. Give yourself ample time. Familiarize yourself with the pattern of question papers and frequently asked questions. This gives you a sense of predictability and control and reduces the stress potential of the examination.
- Have a rehearsal: Make yourself go through a mock examination. Ask your friend to test your knowledge. You can also rehearse mentally in your mind. Visualize yourself taking the examination with ease, completely relaxed and confident and then passing with flying colours.
- Inoculation: Inoculate yourself against stress. Exposure through rehearsals and roleplaying prepares you physically and mentally to face the examination situation better and with confidence
- Analyze your thought patterns: Often when people suffer from anxiety, they focus on overwhelmingly negative thoughts. You may say to yourself "I'm definitely going to fail this test," or "If I fail this test my life is over." These thinking traps are a symptom of anxiety, as well as a cause of greater anxiety. If you find yourself thinking this way about a test, you can take some steps to address and remedy those thoughts
- Positive thinking: Have faith in yourself. Structure your thoughts with systematically listing the thoughts that worry you and then rationally dealing with them one by one. Emphasize on your strengths. Suggest to yourself to be positive and enthusiastic.
- Put negative thoughts in perspective. When many negative thoughts are put in a real-world perspective, they don't seem so serious. For example, you're scared that you will fail the test. But you've gotten good grades on every test this semester so far. Past experience is on your side here. This new perspective makes your fear seem more unlikely since you've already established that you're good at that particular test.
- Use positive self-statements. When people suffer from anxiety, they usually use negative self-statements like "I can’t do this." These kinds of statements can easily cause you anxiety and threaten your self-esteem. Here you need to replace negative statements with positive ones. Silence these negative statements and make an effort to tell yourself "I have studied well for the subject,” I'm tough," "I can do this," or "Everything will be okay." That way you can cut negative statements out of your thinking and improve your happiness and mental balance.
- Relaxation: Learn to relax. Relaxation techniques help you calm your nerves and give you an opportunity to reframe your thoughts. There are many different relaxation techniques. In general, this involves sitting or lying down in a comfortable posture in a quiet place, relaxing your muscles, reducing the external stimulation as well as minimizing the flow of thoughts and focusing.
- Exercise: A stressful situation over activates the sympathetic nervous system. Exercise helps in channelizing the excess energy generated by this. A brief period of light exercise or active sport will help you concentrate better on your studies.
- Reach on time or early for the test: Getting to the test late may set off your anxiety before you even start the test. Do everything you can to be on time for the test. That way, you can sit down and relax for a few minutes before starting. You'll be able to gather your thoughts and focus on positive thinking. This relaxation period before the test is very important to get off to a good start.
- Stop and breathe if you feel anxiety: A little bit of nervous energy is to be expected during the test. But if you find yourself starting to blank out, lose concentration, and feel any of the physical symptoms of anxiety, stop working. If you go on without relaxing yourself, you could have an anxiety attack during the test. Close your eyes and take some deep, full breaths. Once you start feeling better, get back to work.
- Seek support: Do not hesitate to ask for help from your friends, parents, teachers or seniors. Talking about a stressful situation to a close person makes one feel light and helps gain insight. The situation may not be as bad as it seems. On the other hand, blunting strategies involve avoiding the stressful situation. True, avoidance is neither desirable nor possible in an examination situation, but the following techniques may prove useful.
Get help sooner rather than later. Many people try to ignore their anxiety until it's gotten so bad they can't control it anymore. By getting help early on, you can get a handle on your anxiety before it starts having an adverse effect on your life and relationships.
Therapy and Medications Can also help
- If you need extra support, make an appointment with a counselor or counselling psychologist nearby.
- Depending on the severity of your symptoms, counsellor may also recommend cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), anti-anxiety medications, or a combination of both. CBT focuses on helping people change both the behaviours and underlying thoughts that contribute to the unwanted behaviours or feelings.
If you are also feeling such type of anxiety during exams, do visit a psychologist. You can connect us online as well as clinically. MY FIT BRAIN is providing you with the Best Psychologist and Expert Counselor working with full patience to get you rid out of anxiety. Login to www.myfitbrain.in or call us on 9050232637.