All students take tests, whether a lower grade or post-secondary and many of them have test anxiety. Test anxiety is described as a physiological condition that leads to experiencing extreme stress, anxiety, and discomfort during and before taking a test (Beiter et al., 2015, p. 92). A little discomfort and nervousness are usually routine, and it helps to focus attention. However extreme anxiety can interfere with one's performance. The tension results into significant barriers to learning and achievement. Test anxiety has adverse effects on the student and students should be aware of self-help techniques to help then conquer it. Test anxiety is a stressful emotion that can inhibit a students ability to retain and absorb knowledge. Test anxiety creates thought block and impairs the ability to reason and comprehend. Usually, test anxiety develops into a vicious cycle. After the first experience of test anxiety, the student may become so fearful of it happening again they become more anxious than they are in the previous test. Usually, the student may begin to feel helpless in the situation if this cycle continues and they are not getting help. Post-secondary students record significantly high number of stressed individuals because of increased anxiety causing factors such as looking for jobs, relationships, and examinations (Bell, Devecchi, Mc Guckin & Shevlin, 2016, p. 55). College management and parents should come up with ways of identifying the causes and ways of preventing or minimizing stress among the post-secondary students to boost their confidence and productivity.
Many things can cause test anxiety. Firstly test anxiety can be caused by fear of failure and poor performance in previous tests. While the pressure to achieve a goal can act as a motivator, it can also be destructive to somebody who ties their self-worth to the result of a test. Waiting until the last minute or not studying at all can leave individuals feeling anxious and overwhelmed. Previous difficulties or unsatisfactory experiences with test-taking can lead to a negative mindset and influence performance on future tests. Sometimes an underlying skill deficit is usually the cause of poor performance in students. Skill deficits like problems in learning and retaining information. Students with such skill deficits will perform poorly, and this can cause them to have test anxiety. The characteristic of the environment (time, atmosphere, attributes of the examiner) where a test is being done does influence the level of anxiousness as well. Post-secondary students usually have looks experience in past exams, and this plays a significant part in the contribution to their anxiety and possible fear. They are also faced with higher expectations because they are in a transitional level of moving from learning environments to moving to working life (Bell, Devecchi, Mc Guckin & Shevlin, 2016, p. 71).
Test anxiety negatively affects physical, social and behavioral development. Physical symptoms associated with test anxiety include a headache, diarrhea, nausea, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, excessive sweating, and light-headedness. Test anxiety can also lead to a panic attack, which is the abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort in which students may be unable to breathe or feel like they have a heart attack (Beiter et al., 2015). Difficulty concentrating, negative thinking and comparing oneself to others are common symptoms of test anxiety. When one develops the signs, they require help to deal with the situation and overcome it.
Students can avoid test anxiety by preparing well for exams. Preparing early for exams and employing efficient study methods which suite them. Also studying at the place of test helps one remember information during the examination. Having a consistent routine before a test is beneficial because it ensures one is well prepared and hence less stress. Being conversant with the topic that will be tested in an exam enables one to prepare well for the exam. Students with test anxiety can try relaxation test like deep breathing before exams to help keep calm before and during the test (Van der Riet, Rossiter, Kirby, Dluzewska & Harmon, 2015). Exercising before the review is essential because it helps in relaxation. The night before the test students should sleep adequately. Make sure you take food before the test so that you will have adequate energy. In managing the future expectations and fear, regular counseling that prepares the students for new life should take place. The counseling should aim at making them ready to take the challenge with courage and discuss any arising problem with peers and other experiences parties such as parents and teachers.
Test anxiety affects most post-secondary students. Post education studies should not focus so much on giving tests to students as this contributes to test anxiety and shallow learning. Other methods which encourage deeper thinking could be considered. The students, teachers, and parents have a role to play in reducing the levels of anxiety in students. Firstly students should learn to prepare early and adequately. They should also learn some simple relaxation techniques to help them during test anxiety. Parents should lower the level of expectations and avoid pressurizing their kids. Teachers should provide an appropriate environment for examinations and study. Teachers should be friendly, understanding and helpful to students experiencing anxiety during examinations. Educators also should give student friendly tests. It is essential for post-secondary students to know how to recognize text anxiety and how to manage it.
Beiter, R., Nash, R., McCrady, M., Rhoades, D., Linscomb, M., Clarahan, M., & Sammut, S. (2015). The Prevalence and Correlates of Depression, Anxiety, and Stress in a Sample of College Students. Journal of Affective Disorders, 173, 90-96. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2014.10.054
Bell, S., Devecchi, C., Mc Guckin, C., & Shevlin, M. (2016). Making the Transition to Post-Secondary Education: Opportunities and Challenges Experienced by Students with ASD in the Republic of Ireland. European Journal Of Special Needs Education, 32(1), 54-70. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08856257.2016.1254972
Van der Riet, P., Rossiter, R., Kirby, D., Dluzewska, T., & Harmon, C. (2015). Piloting a Stress Management and Mindfulness Program for Undergraduate Nursing Students: Student Feedback and Lessons Learned. Nurse Education Today, 35(1), 44-49. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nedt.2014.05.003
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