With finals week quickly approaching, many students' stress levels are quickly elevating. Projects, papers and tests are piling up so fast that time seems to be a thing of the past. Unfortunately, lack of time and poor performance typically stem from a student being unprepared for dealing with such a busy time.
Test anxiety can have a multitude of symptoms that arise differently in each person. According to The Student Development Centere of Western Ontario (http://www.sdc.uwo.ca/learning/mcanx.html), students can experience such side effects as headaches, nausea, dizziness, temperature sensitivity, inappropriate emotions (such as wanting to laugh or cry too much), negative thinking, racing heart, sweating, and many others. The website states that the most negative aspect of test anxiety is that it alters thought processes, leading to an inability to think clearly and may even lead to "blank outs", where a student completely forgets information that is necessary to know.
According to a spokesperson from Hudson Health Center, finals week is a time when the center sees an influx of students who are seeking treatment for stress-related conditions that are often caused from test anxiety. There are many things that people can do to healthily manage stress.
The afore mentioned website lists various methods of dealing with test anxiety. First of all, it is crucial to be well prepared for the test. This means to read and practice the material thoroughly long before the test date arrives, not the night before. Cramming is very destructive to grades unless luck is on your side. It is good to do a general review of the material the night before, however, to increase the sharpness of memory. Preparation should also include self-testing, whether it involves making flash cards, creating your own questions, or asking the professor for a list of practice questions.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is also important, according to the website. Getting enough sleep (a minimum of seven to eight hours each night) is not only important for test days, but for every day as well. People cannot properly function if they do not get adequate sleep. It is also widely known that getting regular exercise can help ease stress because it releases endorphins into the bloodstream, making people feel more at ease and better about situations they are in. It is also good to mix social interaction as well as personal alone time.
The website also mentions that positive thinking and thought stopping are necessary for exam success as well. If a person does not have confidence that he or she can do well, then it most likely will not happen. When negative thoughts arise, put a stop to them by replacing them with positive thoughts.
Once the exam day arrives, the website notes several essential steps to ensure that test anxiety remains at a minimum. First of all, make sure you are not too hungry or too full! Either one can lead to poor concentration. Double check to make sure that you have everything you need; paper, calculator (make sure the batteries are not low), extra pens or pencils, blue books, etc. Do not wait until five minutes before the test is supposed to start to get everything ready; do it the night before if possible. Arrive early to the testing room so you can choose a spot where you feel the most comfortable. It is also not a good idea to talk to classmates about the test material because it can lead to a lot of confusion and second-guessing.
When the test is in your hands, the website says to read all directions thoroughly and make sure that all pages of the exam are present. Clear up any questions as soon as they arise. When nervousness begins to take its toll, take deep breaths and remember to think positive thoughts. Do the questions that you are sure about, and come back to challenging questions. Remember not to focus on what other students are doing. It doesn't matter if you are the first one to leave or the last one left; take all of the time that you need within the allotted time to do well. If you have a disability that causes you to need special assistance or more time, make sure that you speak to your instructor in advance so he or she can make arrangements.
If you try to manage the anxiety yourself but find that you need more help, go to Hudson Health Center. They have plenty of counselors who are willing to work with people an individual basis to help people figure out what plan will work best for them.