Student Dialog - What to Do about Test Anxiety?
Brian: I've got a test next week and I'm scared!
Jose: Why are you scared? Haven't you studied for it?
Brian: Of course I've studied, especially during the last few days. The test is in English, the course I failed last semester. Last night I couldn't even sleep.
Jose: Brian, it sounds like you're scared because you failed the course last semester and so you think you're going to fail it again this semester.
Brian: Yeah, I guess that's it . . .
Jose: A lot of students suffer from test anxiety at some point. I know some things you can do that might help. Would you like to work on them?
Brian: That'd be great!
Jose: When I get anxious about a test, I try to figure out why I'm worried. For me, feeling like I'm prepared is the key. If I don't feel prepared, then I get worried.
Brian: But I've been studying, and I'm still worried.
Jose: Tell me about how and when you've been studying for this exam.
Brian: Well, I started making study notes a couple of weeks ago. Once I finished compiling them, I started studying . . . probably last week.
Jose: So...you really started studying for your final about 3 weeks in advance?
Brian: Yeah, I guess so. But I did take notes in class and read before class.
Jose: Lack of preparation is one of the main causes of text anxiety. It's not enough to study, you need to develop good study habits, too.
Brian: I see. So you're saying I need a study strategy.
Jose: Exactly! And you need to make sure you are managing and organizing your time! Make sure you stick to whatever schedule you create.
Brian: Ok, I'm understanding this now. So my study strategy should include scheduling time for studying. What else should I do to avoid feeling anxious at test time?
Jose: Well, you've got to take care of yourself, too. Sometimes I get so busy, I forget to eat. It's important to eat right, get enough sleep, and take a break for yourself! When I get anxious, I practice some relaxation techniques.
Brian: Really? Like what?
Jose: Like breathing slowly and deeply for a few minutes. This helps me calm down and clear my head.
Brian: That sounds like a good one, Jose. I'll give it a try. One technique I use is to keep "negative" thoughts about the test out of my head. I tell myself I'm going to pass the test and if I don't pass this one, I'll do better next time. Sounds silly I know, but it works for me.
Jose: I like that one, Brian.