What is Exam Anxiety?
We all take many tests to get into a school, pass a class, or get a job. Since these exams have a big role in our lives in general, they can push individuals into a state of anxiety that they have difficulty in coping with. exam anxiety; It is a kind of anxiety that prevents the learned information from being remembered and used effectively during the exam and reduces success. This state of anxiety is not always harmful. Having some anxiety can have a driving force on the performance of the individual and affect it positively. However, if the anxiety causes a situation such as not being able to do what they know, then it may be beneficial to get support from a specialist. So how do we know if we are experiencing test anxiety? First of all, there are situations such as a decrease in the average success rate, reluctance to talk about the exam, delaying studying, and not wanting to prepare for exams. In addition to these, not being able to sleep the night before the exam, stomach discomfort during and before the exam, sweating and headache are also observed quite intensely in individuals who have exam anxiety.
What are the Causes of Exam Anxiety?
It is known that there are many factors that cause anxiety during the exam process. As an example of these; The great meaning that people ascribe to the exam, the image they create in their minds about the exam, negative thoughts about the exam situation and after, family and environment expectation, perfectionist personality structure, fear of failure, seeing the exam as the only criterion of success in life, negative experiences about the exam before, family or friends. Comparing himself with his peers, wrong study habits, not meeting his physiological needs, incomplete knowledge and experience, high expectations regarding the exam result, etc. Exam anxiety may occur due to reasons such as lack of attention, specific learning disorder, depression, and social phobia. In addition to these, some thought patterns that cause test anxiety affect the formation and increase of anxiety. It is known that thought structures are quite effective in the mental states of individuals. As an example of some automatic thoughts that may cause test anxiety; “I don’t understand exam topics, I’m a stupid person. I have little time left to prepare for the exam, I will not be able to catch up. What will these topics do? My exam will be bad anyway. I don’t feel ready for the exam at all, etc.” molds are available.
An important factor in experiencing test anxiety is the expectation and pressure of families. In this period, it is observed that parents, who are at least as anxious as their children, reflect their own anxiety to their children, even without realizing it. This situation increases the anxiety of the child even more. What can families do in this situation? First of all, families should respect the child’s interests and abilities, social skills should be supported and past successes should be reminded, they should feel that exam success is not a criterion for being a good person – good son, should not be compared with their peers, their efforts should be appreciated regardless of the result, expectations should be kept at a realistic level, the child should be confident in the process, and should care about the process. however, he should explain that the exam is not a criterion for evaluating his personality and that losing is as much a part of life as winning.
What Are the Symptoms of Exam Anxiety?
There are various cognitive, emotional and physical symptoms in people with test anxiety. Examples of cognitive symptoms; constantly criticizing himself, seeing himself as unsuccessful, thinking that something bad will happen in or before the exam, lack of self-confidence, seeing himself as inadequate and worthless, lack of attention focus, difficulty remembering concepts, forgetfulness, difficulty in organizing his thoughts, making excuses that will distract him from the exam, etc. can be given. Examples of emotional symptoms; restlessness, anxiety, uneasiness, panic, being nervous and angry, depressed mood, constant desire to cry, pessimism, unhappiness, uncontrolled excitement, etc. can be given. Finally, as an example of physical symptoms; fatigue and weakness, nausea, abdominal pain, headache, heart palpitations, tremors, sweating, deterioration in sleep patterns, deterioration in eating patterns, dry mouth, vomiting, shortness of breath, etc. can be given.
What Can Be Done to Reduce Exam Anxiety?
What can we do to prevent or minimize test anxiety? Some strategies to help in this regard;
Break away from negative thought patterns and create alternative thoughts. It should not be forgotten that thoughts reveal emotions, and emotions reveal behaviors. “I’m not good enough, I can’t do that.” etc. moving away from the thoughts “I can do this, I know the subjects and I worked hard” etc. The internalization of thought patterns is quite effective.
Acknowledge your worries, anxiety, and physical reactions and try to focus on the present moment. Discover your shortcomings and learn to work effectively.
Change your perfectionist perspective. Focusing on doing your best instead of waiting for perfection will help reduce your test anxiety.
Do not personalize the exam. When the exam is unsuccessful, it is not related to your personality. This is related to the fact that you are not ready enough for the exam or such situations.
Discovering your strengths and deficiencies, supporting your strengths and strengthening your missing side will help you increase your self-confidence.
Make sure you are ready for the exam. Taking enough time to study for the exam will be effective in increasing your self-confidence and feeling ready for the exam.
Adequate sleep. Having a regular sleep time, especially a productive night’s sleep, is a good support for attention and memory.
You can reduce your anxiety level with sports, breathing exercises and relaxation exercises.
Is Psychological Support Necessary?
Anxiety arising from the exam can also bring many negative situations. Dealing with these situations is not always easy. If the functionality of the individual is impaired due to the mental state, depression, sleep disorder, etc. If they have appeared and used wrong and self-harming ways to eliminate anxiety, they should receive psychological support.