Guidance » School Stress and Testing Anxiety

School Stress and Testing Anxiety

Stress and Anxiety are something that everyone goes through as they begin to transition into high school. Whether your stress and anxiety are related to that big upcoming test, college applications, etc. there are ways to manage that stress and anxiety and help you succeed. Below you will find some tips and strategies to help you manage your stress and anxiety related to school. 
Anyone who is serious about taking an exam is a little "keyed up. " The adrenaline helps the student to concentrate and focus on the task. When the level of stress starts to interfere with performance, it is time to take action. Often, what is called "test anxiety " is brought about by a lack of preparation and poor test-taking skills. If not dealt with, the student may become resigned to, "Why should I study? I'll just fail anyway. "
Test Anxiety is the condition in which the fear of failure is so great that it impedes the student's ability to demonstrate what he/she knows. Test anxiety can have many causes - lack of adequate preparation, prior bad experiences, and lack of self-confidence are just three of them. Telling them to relax and not worry really doesn't help.
  1. Preparation
    • Begin reviewing a few days before the test date. CRAMMING for the test can increase anxiety.
    • Use appropriate study skills. Just reading tests over and over is of little value. Very little new material is added after the second reading.
    • Make up potential test questions and answer them. Look at old tests to get an idea of the kinds of questions that have been asked in previous exams.
    • In math, do practice problems.
  2. During the test
    • Read all Directions - make sure you know what to do. Ask questions if you do not understand.
    • Look over the whole exam to see the kinds of questions and the point value of each. DO THE ONES YOU KNOW FIRST. Questions do not have to be answered sequentially. In this way, you will be sure to get the maximum point value.
    • Attempt ALL questions - partial credit is better than no credit.
    • Pay attention to the time factor. Do not spend too much time on any one question.
    • Write some marginal notes before writing essay questions. The notes will help you to keep your thoughts organized and you are less likely to forget important information.
    • Neatness is important, but not at the expense of your grade. Cross out incorrect answers, use arrows to indicate additional information, and use asterisks - a messy something is better than a neat nothing.
So you want to go to college. You are a high school junior or senior. And if one more person tells you these are the best years of your life, you'll scream! You have to raise your average, pick a college, select a major, apply, get in, get a job, clean your room, and juggle school work, a social life, and school activities. And this is easy? What you really have is STRESS. You call it anxiety, frustration, tension, nerves. But what is stress really? And, more importantly, what can you do about it?
The word "stress" is a misnomer. While people usually think of stress as something to avoid, stress can be positive or negative. Stress is not the result of working too hard It is not the work that you out-it's the frustration that goes with it. When people say they are under stress, what they really mean is that they are under excessive stress or "distress". Distress is damaging or unpleasant stress, or can be the result of prolonged or unvaried stress. The key issue in every stressful situation is control. When you feel you are losing control, you experience stress. For example, if you have problems at home, at work, in school, and with friends, you experience distress. Or if you experience one problem over a long period of time, like a prolonged illness or an ongoing family problem like alcoholism, you experience distress, too. What eventually happens is that your body breaks down in some way such as by getting a headache or stomach ache, not being able to sleep or eat, becoming edgy or tearful, and so on. Often you don't know why because you don't connect your physical symptoms with the pressures from school or home. But if you ignore these minor signals for a long time, you can get very ill either physically or mentally.
You can, however, do something about negative stress. You can manage stress by modifying your behavior so that you regain some level of control in your life. Try to follow some of these suggestions:
  1. Listen to your body --- Become aware of those parts of your body that signal stress (pursed eyebrow, tightened jaw, clenched hands) and then concentrate on relaxing those parts.
  2. Spend time with positive people--Surround yourself as often as possible with people who accept you for yourself, have your best interests in mind, and with whom you can relax in healthy ways.
  3. Set priorities and realistic goals, you can't do it all, and you can't do it all in one day. Make a priority list for the day or week and complete the most important task first.
  4. Communicate your feelings, and express yourself using messages (not "You made me. bottle up your feelings. They are only going to come out as misplaced anger or a headache. Change your routine or activity - If you do something physically strenuous all day, do something restful like reading or listening to music. If you sit in class all day, take a brisk walk or do some other exercise. Stress on one system relieves stress on another. It's a balance.
  5. Replenish-Involve yourself in activities that are nourishing to your mind and body: exercise, work at a hobby, laugh eat properly, get adequate rest, etc.
  6. Don't be afraid to seek help-If you are feeling overwhelmed, then by all means seek out the help of a trusted family member, teacher, or counselor. There are times for each of us when it is necessary to ask for help. Do it!
  7. Some don'ts--Avoid drugs or alcohol. Chemicals do not solve problems. Once the drug wears off, the problem remains, only you have the effects of the drug to contend with. Avoid caffeine and nicotine while you are at it.
Finally, remember that you live in a stressful world. This won't change, but you can. Practice some of the techniques listed above. Then you can begin to make stress work for you. As a result, the time you spend preparing for life after high school can be less stressful and more fun!
Characteristics of an Effective Student
  1. Follows a time schedule and keeps a "To Do" list.
  2. Maintains good health.
    • Health makes success easier. It is difficult to work when in poor health. Adequate sleep, proper diet, mid regular exercise are very important.
  3. Shows enthusiasm
    • Enthusiasm is pleasant and contagious.
  4. Develops an extensive vocabulary.
    • Without a good vocabulary, thinking, talking and writing will be limited.
  5. Shows initiative - Volunteers
    • The person who wants to succeed must go beyond the minimum work that is requested. A student will not be penalized for doing extra work. Raising questions shows intellectual curiosity.
  6. Is neat, orderly, and punctual
  7. Finishes one thing before starting something else.
  8. Makes up work that is missed without being told by the teacher.
  9. Tries to do better today than yesterday.
  10. Thinks about what was read, rather than just trying to remember facts.
  11. Formulates opinions, but is ready to consider new ones.
  12. Knows the directions for a task and follow them.
  13. Is always courteous and mind full of the feelings of others.