How much anxiety is OK?
Test anxiety is normal and some anxiety
can be helpful, prompting you to be better prepared for
the demands of your course. It simply varies from person
to person. Here are some helpful hints to help you decide
if your level of test anxiety is OK:
· At too
low level of arousal, you may put little or no effort
into preparing for exams.
· At medium levels of arousal, you can work and prepare
well, and give you best performance.
· Too much arousal can disrupt and harm performance.
This level of arousal is unpleasant and where test anxiety
can become a problem.
How do you know if test anxiety is becoming
The following brief screening is an adaptation
of the Achievement Anxiety Test (Alpert & Haber, 1960).
Indicate the number for each item that comes closest to
After completing this brief screening, sum
the numbers entered for each of the ten items. If your
total score is higher than 37, your current level of test
anxiety may be preventing you from functioning successfully
and you may consider seeking assistance from a qualified
professional. However, you can begin to reduce your test
anxiety by following the tips listed below.
Tips for Reducing Exam Anxiety
Before the Exam
· Don't leave all of your studying until the last minute.
Learn and review as you go.
· Know the material. Test yourself often on course material.
Don't just read and recognize.
· Find out how you will be tested and prepare by answering
that kind of question: solve problems, explain/compare
theories, apply theories to situations, etc. Practice
without notes or your textbook and with a time limit,
just like on the exam.
· Set realistic and achievable goals. Don't be a perfectionist
who tries to learn everything, and don't tell yourself
that you have to "ace" every exam.
· Eat and sleep well before an exam.
· Visualize success. Be very specific. Imagine yourself
arriving for the exam feeling confident and relaxed.
In your mind, watch yourself answering the questions
successfully, turning in your exam with confidence,
and receiving a high grade.
During the Exam
· Think positive thoughts at the beginning and throughout
the exam. Tell yourself that you are prepared, you
can do it, and you deserve to succeed.
the exam as an opportunity to show what you know.
· Remember that your future does not depend on the specific
outcome of a specific exam.
· Take time to read all of the instructions carefully.
If there is a choice, select those questions which you
would like to answer first. It is best to start with
questions that you know the best. This will put you
in a confident state of mind and reduce your anxiety.
· Plan to divide your time evenly among the various sections
of the exam. While you may not stay strictly with this
limit, the guideline will give you a sense of progress
and feedback about how you are doing. It will also
help you keep track of the time so that you have the
opportunity to answer all of the questions.
· You may find it helpful to set mini-breaks at specified
points during the exam during which you close your eyes
and do deep breathing exercises. Even thirty seconds
of relaxation can help reduce your stress level.
· When we become anxious we begin to have negative thoughts
("I can't answer anything," "I am going to fail").
Deal firmly with negative thoughts:
· Say to yourself, "STOP THAT." This can be done immediately
once you become aware of a negative thought and before
it impairs performance.
· Try to replace your negative thoughts with positive,
encouraging thoughts such as "Relax and concentrate,
everything will be okay."
Sometimes test anxiety is related to a
lack of confidence or low self-esteem. It can also
be the result of pressure from family and teachers,
or a more general fear of failure. If you are a student
at Wright State University and would like to talk to
someone about your anxiety, please contact the Counseling
and Wellness Services at 775-3407.
These materials were compiled and prepared
by Melanie Michaud