Testing anxiety is a psychological condition that causes students to experience severe distress before taking a test. According to the American Test Anxieties Association, about 16 to 20 percent of students suffer from high levels of test-related anxiety. An additional 18 percent suffer from moderate test-related anxiety.
Test anxiety can lead many to confuse reasoning, blank, freeze, or not remember material, resulting in lower test scores. Many students who experience symptoms of anxiety before, during or after a test may also suffer from social anxiety. This will often prevent students from seeking help from their teachers, school or professionals.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, physical symptoms of testing anxiety can include, headaches, nausea, diarrhea, excessive sweating, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, lightheadedness and feeling faint can all occur. Testing anxiety can lead to a panic attack, which is the abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort in which individuals may feel like they are unable to breathe or having a heart attack.
Testing anxiety can also be accompanied by emotional symptoms as well. Often students will experience fear and anger, as well as feelings of helplessness and disappointment.
“I used to get really nervous during a test, especially as a child. It is something I have gotten better at over the years, with stricter studying habits and positive thinking, but it is still something that I must address and deal with,” said Zak Pesner, a senior communication studies major. “It is easier for me now to enter a test with confidence, especially if I force myself to prepare properly. I know it is something many students ignore, however, I encourage all students who have issues with test anxiety to talk to people about it.”
Many students experience anxiety before presentations or performances. Students in the arts often experience anxiety before and during performances, otherwise known as “stage fright.”
“Public speaking and presenting is something that terrifies me. The feeling of anxiety that develops inside of me days before a presentation psyches me out. It doesn’t matter how long I prepare, instead of going into a presentation with confidence, I am riddled with nervousness,” said Adam Schaffroth, a sophomore economics major. “I am not sure what it is exactly that triggers my anxiety. Getting in front of your classmates makes you (vulnerable). You are (vulnerable) to their criticism. That is a tough thing to confront.”