Test Anxiety? The 3 Common Causes

I have test Anxiety and I want to know how it can be improved. I feel like the more my test anxiety kinda kicks in the worse I get and when I do test I feel like my anxiety gets in the way and that’s why I do so bad on my tests and quizzes.

Previously when I take tests I have to take them outside of the room and I don’t like it. I feel unincluded and I feel like my anxiety raises. Thnx

I’m so sorry to hear that you have to deal with this, but thanks for sending your question because there are sure to be others who struggle with test anxiety as you do.

You’re smart to want to turn this around, because the longer it goes on, the harder it gets to do just that. But, I’m confident that you can tackle this and get it under control. First, I want you to get yourself in the mindset of feeling confident. You can beat this. Think positive thoughts as you read further.

3 Common causes of test anxiety

Only you know what triggers this for you, but most commonly, people who’ve had trouble with test anxiety fall in to 3 categories:

1. Past history of test anxiety. Their past history of trouble with test anxiety sets them up for future problems. The one time we felt we couldn’t handle our anxiety, can make it harder to step up to the plate and stay calm the next time around.

Can you remember the first time your anxiety took hold of you? What was happening? What were you thinking? Did you react in a way that was embarrassing to you? Did it make you concerned about what the other students thought of you? Answering this list of questions for yourself will help you understand how this anxiety got entrenched into your thoughts and feelings.

Now, moving in to the present, what thoughts lead you to feeling anxious when you take tests today? Are they thoughts of helplessness or embarrassment? Do you harbor negative thoughts about yourself, or your performance, or about showing your anxiety when you take a test? Ask yourself these questions to figure out the root cause of your anxiety and the negative thinking that feeds it.

2. Fear of failure. While some anxiety is normal when taking a test, too much anxiety can cloud your mind and will make you forget the answers. I realize you know this, but I wanted to bring this up so that you understand that you don’t want to get rid of ALL your nervousness, just the nerves that go overboard and make you lose your concentration. Heightened awareness that can feel like anxiety can actually help you take tests better.

One thing to explore is to see if your fear of failure is somehow tied to how you feel about yourself. Does failure at anything in life lead you to think negatively about yourself and “beat yourself up” and “be hard on yourself”? I bet you’ll find other areas in your life where you put a lot of pressure on yourself. If so, you can look at ways to turn the negative self talk around and find ways to treat yourself with more understanding and compassion.

3. Poorly prepared. If you know you haven’t studied enough for the test, you’re bound to feel more anxious.

Joan’s story~When I have a test, or public speaking engagement, or even for my radio shows, I spend a lot of time preparing. If I don’t, like you, I can get overly anxious. Recently, I traveled to Dallas to do a video shoot with a well-known author who’s been on Oprah and major news networks several times. It was a talk forum with the author, a moderator and two other “relationship experts”.

It was kind of like I’d imagine being on “The View” as we had a director, lots of crew with video and sound guys, and professional makeup artists. I spent lots of time researching the 6 questions we were to discuss, because it helped me calm my nerves. I’m glad I did because I think it helped me do better when talking on camera without notes.

Once the videos are edited, I’ll be posting them on my website JoanJerkovich.com and we can all see if my preparation helped me. But, I know for a fact, that if I’d gone in to the video shoot poorly prepared, my anxiety would have been off the scale!

Keep these 3 common causes of test anxiety in mind as you begin to get this under control, and watch for my next posting on ways to manage your test anxiety. I’m here to help and thanks for posting your question!

Joan Jerkovich, BCC Board Certified Life Coach

Joan Jerkovich, BCC
Board Certified Life Coach

The Joan Jerkovich Show
News Radio 1150 KSAL
Saturdays @ 6am & Sundays @ 9pm CST
Podcast posts to KSAL.com Mondays

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