What causes anxiety over taking tests and how to treat it

In a data-driven society, there will always be an incredible amount of emphasis placed on a student’s test scores. The climate surrounding tests and assessment is known to induce uncertainty and fear. This is particularly so in tests that carry a huge amount of significance for a student’s future.

These concerns kick into focus a very important priority: how do you cope with disappointing results of high-stakes testing. First, though, is to identify the causes that create these unwanted consequences.

Parents of students should take care not to trivialise the anxieties testing can create. A recent Mumsnet survey that looked at test related stress in teenagers has found that almost two out of three parents, (out of a pool of 1,500 respondents), who participated were concerned about the mental health of their children.

Parents cited that one of the major causes of exam stress (31 per cent) was put down to the pressure to achieve good results. Pressure over performance was found to exceed that from other sources, such as social media.

In addition to poor performances in tests in the past, other causes that generated test related anxiety included things like inadequate preparation and poor study habits, including lack of time management.

The British Psychological Society has identified three elements of anxiety related to testing.

  • Negative thinking patterns including self-condemning statements. One of the serious consequences of deprecating self-talk is that it negatively affects a student’s cognitive ability.
  • Physiological symptoms such as muscle tension, trembling, sweating and nausea.
  • Problematic behavioural symptoms such as procrastination or avoiding studying altogether.

Test anxiety management techniques

There is no need for parents to feel helpless in these types of situations. There are numerous techniques a parent (or even students) can implement to manage anxiety that can arise from test taking. Some of the most common coping strategies are very intuitive.

Seek academic support

Students sitting high-stakes tests such as the SAT can easily improve performance scores with SAT tutoring in London. A quality tutoring plan will ensure a student is test ready, with strategies in place and healthy confidence levels to give the test their all.

Implement stress management strategies

Students can learn to identify the signs of stress and then use relaxation techniques to lower anxiety. Techniques like deep breathing can be practised during a test.

Execute a study plan well in advance of the test date

Execute a study plan

Much of the anxiety students go through is due to not leaving enough time to prepare and revise before the actual test date. The only sure way to make certain a student covers all the course material and has time to practise strategies is to plan well and start preparation early. Rewards can be used as incentives to stick to a study plan.

Practise self-care habits

Performing well in tests requires students to look after themselves by eating a wholesome diet, sleeping well and getting adequate exercise.

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