Test anxiety is an example of a social anxiety disorder, as research so far suggests that it is the evaluation aspect of a test that impairs a person’s psychological wellbeing, self-esteem and performance1 3.
It is difficult to know how many people suffer from test anxiety, but, approximately 31% of adolescents (13-18 years) and 22% of 18 to 29-year-olds suffer from any type of anxiety disorder. Therefore, you’re not alone if you feel like you suffer from test anxiety or any kind of social anxiety disorder.
This is a short overview of causes and treatments test anxiety.
What are the causes of test anxiety?
Test anxiety is a mixture of worry and emotionality. People who suffer from test anxiety tend to react emotionally to test situations with fear (sweaty palms, quick shallow breaths) and defensiveness, causing them to worry about their performance and how they'll be judged negatively1.
How does test anxiety impair performance?
The more a person suffers with test anxiety, the worse their performance is on tests and exams1. The reason for this is students suffer when it comes to preparation for the exam and study skills3.
The University of Würzburg (Germany) conducted a pilot project in 2007/2008, whereby first-year students were able to partake in lectures designed to prevent test anxiety (i.e. time management and planning, test anxiety, and coping strategies). They found that first-year students were eager to participate in these lectures, as well as highlighting that older students would also benefit from such a program too2.
How do you deal with test anxiety?
Studies have found a positive outcome from behavioural treatments, such as systematic desensitisation, relaxation training, positive reinforcement, and hypnosis; as well as cognitive-behavioural treatments like cognitive modification and anxiety management training1. Your GP will have more information about such treatments available to you.
The NHS website has a lot of information about social anxiety, treatments and other helpful resources, so please follow the link here.
But here is a technique you can use in the moment:
Take a few deep breaths – inhaling for a count of 4, exhaling for 4, and holding for 4.
Repeat a positive affirmation to yourself – ‘I can cope with this’.
The deep breathing stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, causing your body to enter a state of calm. And by repeating positive affirmations, they change your emotional state, reducing the feelings of worry and angst.
The use of our sports hall floor protection tiles are something to look at too. The temporary flooring is specially crafed with regards to colour to help students concentrate. Plus, it is acoustically engineered to keep sound to an absolute minimum.
We hope this provides some helpful information, but, please talk to your GP if you feel like you might be suffering from test anxiety or any sort of mental heath disorder.
1. Heimberg, R. G., Hofmann, S. G., Liebowitz, M. R., Schneier, F. R., Smits, J. A., Stein, M. B., Hinton, D. E. & Craske, M. G. (2014). Social anxiety disorder in DSM-5. Depression and anxiety, 31(6), 472-479.
2. Neuderth, S., Jabs, B., & Schmidtke, A. (2009). Strategies for reducing test anxiety and optimizing exam preparation in German university students: a prevention-oriented pilot project of the University of Würzburg. Journal of Neural Transmission, 116(6), 785-790.
3. Trifoni, A., & Shahini, M. (2011). How does exam anxiety affect the performance of university students. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 2(2), 93-100.
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