Photo by Sandy Liu
The majority of students report being more stressed by tests than anything else in their lives, according to American Test Anxieties Association.
With finals quickly approaching, the Student Success Center offered a chance for students to learn how to overcome test taking anxiety in a workshop on Thursday, Nov. 9 at Appleby Center.
Sparkle Greenhaw from the Counseling Center began the presentation by illustrating some difficulties that students may experience during tests. Such as the little correlation between tests and materials that students spent time studying.
“There’s no magic cure, but it’s treatable,” she said.
Greenhaw said she defines test anxiety as an acute stress that affects some students’ ability to perform on tests.
“Everybody experiences it, but it’s on a continuum,” she said. “Some may experience a little of it, and some may be deeply affected by it.”
Test anxiety may be displayed in symptoms such as breathing more rapidly, sweating, rising of blood pressure, restlessness, overthinking etc.
Greenhaw said test anxiety is rooted from reasoned fears and unreasoned fears.
“Faulty thinking goes hand in hand with unreasoned fears,” she said. “Our thoughts start to snowball, and we think that we’re not going to be successful in life because of one test. And this can lead to a vicious cycle of stress leading to poor performance which leads to more stress.”
Some things that contribute to helping students cope with test anxiety are sleep, visualization of being successful and staying positive.
“Sleep affects our emotional and physical health,” Greenhaw said. “It has a close relationship with test performance, and sometimes it helps more than studying for students, especially the night before the exam.”
Relaxation and mindfulness apps are also tools that help students ease their anxiety. said Greenhaw.
“It helps you to be present in the very moment you’re in,” Greenhaw said. “Personally I love the Calm app. It has a visual of the waves coming in from the ocean and walks you through a meditation.”
Other apps include Stress Check, Happify, Headspace, Optimism, Belly Bio etc.
Students also practiced a relaxation technique led by Greenhaw.
“Close your eyes and breathe in slowly to the count of seven and exhale to the count of seven,” she said.
Students continued this for several minutes and Greenhaw ended the relaxation practice by encouraging students to pick a positive thought to remove anxiety.
Senior Tracie Loo said she suffers from test anxiety and came to this workshop to seek help.
“I have dyslexia and sometimes it takes me longer to process information and that can lead to anxiousness,” she said. “But this workshop really helped and gave me the necessary tools to change my perspective and remain positive.”
Marissa Davis, director of the Student Success Center, said the workshop has been highly requested.
“It has been a recurring request from students during academic coaching,” she said. “I thought this could help students, and it seems like a natural fit with finals approaching.”
Davis said she also encourages students to utilize resources on campus to help cope with test anxiety.
“Reach out to the Counseling Center. They have very experienced counselors who can help students deal with emotional anxiety and other deeper issues,” she said. “We also offer free academic coaching at the Student Success Center to help students go over how they can best prepare for exams.”
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