Ways to Cope with Exam Anxiety

Today, the number of students experiencing test anxiety is increasing. As the high school entrance exams and university exams approach, test anxiety symptoms may begin to appear in students. What is test anxiety? What are the symptoms? What are the reasons? How can students manage this anxiety? How can parents support their children in this process? At what stage do you need expert support? Specialist Clinical Psychologist Ayşe Topak gave information about the subject.

Exam anxiety is defined in DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) as dysfunctional anxiety experienced when one’s knowledge and skills are examined and evaluated with certain criteria, and intense anxiety that prevents the effective use of learned information during the exam and leads to a decrease in success.

Symptoms of test anxiety include; anxiety, difficulty in understanding, distraction, decreased performance in real terms, difficulty in remembering and organizing information, and various avoidance behaviors are shown.

Anxiety can have emotional, physical, intellectual and behavioral consequences for the student. Emotional consequences include irritability, pessimism, fear; physical consequences palpitations, sweating, shortness of breath, sleep problems; Negative beliefs about intellectual outcomes (beliefs on inadequacy, incompetence) and avoidance-avoidance behaviors (postponing studying, quitting, rejecting) can be given as examples. We can define the main causes of test anxiety as inconveniences in the way of studying by separating the time before, during and after the exam, distortions in the meanings attributed by the student to the exam, inability to manage the stress that occurs during the exam, excessive sense of perfectionism in the student, performance anxiety and parental pressure.

Establishing a regular study program and showing the necessary importance to sleep, nutrition and rest are among the measures that students can take in this regard. In addition to these, there are studies that show that progressive muscle relaxation, safe place exercises and mindful breathing exercises are good for students with test anxiety. It is of great importance for parents to reduce their surreal expectations, avoid negative feedback, respect the child’s individual interests and avoid comparative comments, preventing the formation of test anxiety and reducing existing anxiety.

After a certain point, it will be beneficial to receive psychological and psychiatric support against the conditions that may accompany test anxiety. As experts, we consider students’ emotions, thoughts and behaviors before, during and after the exam when evaluating test anxiety. In the pre-exam period, working conditions, self-beliefs, and performance anxiety are discussed. The physical symptoms, thoughts and attitudes that may occur during the exam are evaluated. In the post-exam period, studies are carried out on how the student evaluates his own performance retrospectively and his attitude towards his family. It is possible to reduce anxiety by applying suggestions or getting support in children and adolescents experiencing test anxiety.

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