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Test Anxiety in Students: Causes, Symptoms, and Ways to Avoid

Deepa Kartha Apr 29, 2019
Are you feeling nervous about your impending test next week? Here are some tips that will help you in coping with it.
Test anxiety is a kind of performance anxiety, wherein a person feels nervous before, during, and after the exam. Anxiety is actually a very normal way of reacting to stressful situations. It is the way in which our body tries to cope with the stress.
A little anxiety actually helps one in concentrating and working hard for the exams. However, if students spend all their time battling these stressful thoughts, a lot of valuable study time would be lost, which would prolong the vicious circle of stress and failure.


Some of the physical effects experienced by an anxious person are:
  • Stomach ache and Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Giddiness
  • Headache
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Perspiration
  • Shivering
  • Emotional problems, like crying or frustration
  • Memory blanking out


For some, anxiety is like a tonic to work harder, while for others it may be the root cause of poor performance, leading to academic failure, psychological disorders, and poor self-confidence.

Negative Thoughts

Some students are anxious by nature, and easily get nervous when they face a stressful situation. Negative thoughts easily creep into the minds of such students during tests, even if they have prepared well.
The fear that they would forget everything they have studied, or the fear of encountering a tough question paper makes them nervous. When someone indulges in negative thinking, it is likely that one would forget what he or she has studied.

Perfection Stress

Anxiety also affects people who are perfectionists, and regularly achieve high scores in every test. Such students pressurize themselves and are always anxious to get a perfect score. This may cause anxiety, as even one wrong answer can make them feel like they have done a lot worse than they actually have.

Academic Competition

There is cut-throat competition in academics nowadays, wherein even a single score can affect a student's future prospects. Students tend to develop test anxiety when their scores are likely to directly affect their career options.

Last-Minute Preparation

Test anxiety is most common in people who have not studied for the whole academic year, but still want to score excellent marks. When one starts preparing at the last minute, they have a lot to study in a very short time. This leads to anxiety, as they rightly doubt whether they would be able to complete everything and remember everything they studied.
The thought of studying too much in too little a time makes them sick with anxiety. This kind of behavior shows poor studying habits, lack of organization, and poor time management. Not preparing in advance causes low self-confidence and fear of failure.

Useful Tips

Study Regularly

One of the most important factors for avoiding test anxiety is to prepare well in advance. Studying regularly for a few hours everyday right from the beginning of the year, helps in increasing the confidence of students.

Reduce Pressure

If students are not able to cope with the psychological side-effects of exams, they should talk to their teachers, counselors, parents, or friends. Parents should also avoid pressuring their kids to achieve more than what can be justifiably expected.
Create a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere at home, so that your children can study without any tension. Another important point that arises here, is that neither the student nor the parents should compare the child with classmates and friends.

Physical Fitness

Do not forget to eat and sleep properly. Many times, students avoid sleep and starve themselves while studying hard. They should sleep for at least 6-7 hours a day, and eat nutritious and healthy food. Exercising regularly is equally important.

Prepare a Schedule and Stick To It!

Plan your studies well. Chart a time-table and take proper breaks while studying. Along with the time spent studying, allot time to relax and indulge in hobbies.
Students should remember that these tests are just a part of life, and failure in them does not bring about the end of the world. While it is important to gain good scores in tests, it is not the most important thing in life.