Test Anxiety in Students

  • By: Generation Z Team

Test anxiety is incredibly common among today's students and can stem from various reasons. The stress can sometimes begin days before an exam, severely impacting a student's performance. According to Ray Hembree in Correlates, Causes, Effects, and Treatment of Test Anxiety, test anxiety “prevalence rises sharply in grades 3 to 5, and stays fairly constant through high school.” As students venture further into their academic journey, stress can accumulate, fostering an environment of general anxiety. Reducing test anxiety is crucial for students and educators to create a healthier educational environment.

Cognitive issues strongly correlate with test anxiety, which often relates to how a student views themselves regarding their education. Some students place immense pressure on themselves by comparing their performance to that of their peers, worrying about failing, having low confidence in the material learned, and basing their worthiness on their grades and praise from others. These cognitive issues can also entail physiological effects such as increased heart rate, dizziness, nausea, and feelings of panic, all of which further limit students’ ability to perform well academically. Educators are responsible for monitoring unhealthy learning habits and guiding students to deal with the stress that comes with education.

Another factor in test anxiety stems from poor study habits or a general lack of preparedness. Educators must instruct students about the different ways one could study, such as groups, practice tests, and online tools, among others. Healthy study habits are also crucial to maintaining mental health and reducing stress. Taking necessary breaks, setting attainable goals, and asking for help when needed are all part of the process. Educators and parents should play a role in motivating students to take on healthy and efficient habits to prosper within the education system and become independent learners.

The key to limiting test anxiety is to prepare students. Having a well-thought-out curriculum and knowing how to manage student behaviors will benefit both educators and students in the long run. It is essential to focus on these matters in workshops and professional development to ensure that educators are well-prepared to handle their students' anxiety. Most importantly, a calm and safe learning environment is an absolute must for reducing the stress of everyone involved. Learning under pressure rarely pays off.

There is no way to erase this phenomenon completely, but preparing students well and helping them stay motivated can drastically improve their mental and physical health. Any practices that the educator or student can implement to reduce stress surrounding test-taking should be considered. The flow of knowledge is vital in education. Still, it is equally crucial for students to know how to express that knowledge without issue on the many exams and large projects that are bound to arise in their academic careers.