THE FIVE CAUSES OF TEST ANXIETY:
· Test anxiety is a learned behavior.
· The association of grades and personal worth causes test anxiety.
· Test anxiety can come from a feeling of a lack of control.
· Test anxiety can be caused by a teacher embarrassing a student.
· Being placed into course above your ability can cause test anxiety.
· Test anxiety develops from fear of alienation from parents, family, and friends due to poor grades.
· Test anxiety can be caused by timed tests and the fear of not finishing the test, even if one can do all the problems
THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF TEST ANXIETY:
1. One type of test anxiety is somatic, which is what you are feeling.
2. The second type of test anxiety is cognitive, which is what you are thinking.
TWO REASONS STUDENTS LEAVE THE TEST ROOM EARLY
INSTEAD OF CHECKING THEIR ANSWERS:
1. Their anxiety level gets so high that they have to leave.
2. They don't want to be the last one in the classroom.
THE TWELVE MYTHS OF TEST ANXIETY:
· Students are born with test anxiety.
· Test anxiety is a mental illness.
· Test anxiety cannot be reduced.
· Any level of test anxiety is bad.
· All students who are not prepared have test anxiety.
· Students with test anxiety cannot learn math.
· Students who are well prepared will not have test anxiety.
· Very intelligent students and students taking high-level courses, such as calculus, do not have test anxiety.
· Attending class and doing my homework should reduce all my test anxiety.
· Being told to relax during a test will make you relaxed.
· Doing nothing about test anxiety will make it go away.
· Reducing test anxiety will guarantee better grades.
HOW TO REDUCE TEST ANXIETY
There are both short-term and long-term relaxation response techniques that help control emotional (somatic) and worry (cognitive) test anxiety. Once these procedures are learned, the relaxation response will take the place of an anxiety response.
THE TENSING AND DIFFERENTIAL RELAXATION METHOD
1. Put your feet flat on the floor.
2. With your hands, grab underneath the chair.
3. Push down with your feet and pull up on your chair at the same time for about
4. Relax for five to ten seconds.
5. Repeat the procedure two or three times.
6. Relax all your muscles except the ones that are actually used to take the test.
THE PALMING METHOD
1. Close and cover your eyes using the center of the palms of your hands.
2. Prevent your hands from touching your eyes by resting the lower parts of your
palms on your cheekbones and placing your fingers on your forehead. Your
eyeballs must not be touched, rubbed or handled in any way.
3. Think of some real or imaginary relaxing scene. Mentally visualize this scene.
Picture the scene as if you were actually there, looking through your own eyes.
4. Visualize this relaxing scene for one to two minutes.
1. Sit straight up in your chair in a good posture position.
2. Slowly inhale through your nose.
3. As you inhale, first fill the lower section of your lungs and work your way up
to the upper part of your lungs.
4. Hold your breath for a few seconds.
5. Exhale slowly through your mouth.
6. Wait a few seconds and repeat the cycle.
LONG-TERM RELAXTION TECHNIQUES
The cue-controlled relaxation response technique is the best long-term relaxation technique. It is presented on side two of the audiocassette How To Reduce Test Anxiety (Nolting, 1986). Cue-controlled relaxation means you can induce your own relaxation based on repeating certain cue words to yourself. In essence, you are taught to relax and then silently repeat cue words, such as "I am relaxed." After enough practice you can relax during tests.
Negative self-talk (cognitive anxiety) is defined as the negative statements you tell yourself before and during tests. Negative self-talk causes students to lose confidence and to give up on tests. Students need to change their negative self-talk to positive self-talk without making unrealistic statements.
During tests, positive self-talk can build confidence and decrease your test anxiety. Using positive self-talk before a test can help reduce your test anxiety and improve your grades.
EXAMPLES OF NEGATIVE SELF-TALK:
EXAMPLES OF POSITIVE SELF-TALK
Some students have difficulty stopping their negative self-talk. These students cannot just tell themselves to eliminate those thoughts. These students need to use a thought-stopping technique to overcome their worry and become relaxed.
To stop your thoughts in the classroom or during a test, silently shout to yourself "Stop" or "Stop thinking about that." After your silent shout, either relax yourself or repeat one of your positive self-talk statements. You may have to shout to yourself several times during a test or while doing homework to control negative self-talk. After every shout, use a different relaxation technique/scene or positive self-talk statement.
Thought stopping works because it interrupts the worry response before it can cause high anxiety or negative emotions. During the interruption, you can replace negative self-talk with positive self-talk statements or relaxation. Students with high worry anxiety should practice this technique three days to one week before taking a test. Contact the campus counselor if you have additional questions about how to reduce test anxiety/negative self-talk statements.
Paul D. Nolting, Ph.D., Math Study Skills Workbook, Your Guide to Reducing Test Anxiety and Improving Study Strategies, 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.