Testing has always been a controversial topic at school. For some, it’s a form of outcasting those who don’t have enough capacity to memorize formulas and data for a two-hour evaluation only to never use the information again. For others it’s simply a way to justify how competent you are. And for a few people, taking a test can be the most traumatizing experience they can go through. Test anxiety is a real thing with real consequences. Teachers and parents sometimes make the mistake of thinking that students will fake it to get out of doing a test. Even if they think a student is not being honest, teachers should still send the student to the guidance counselor or the school psychologist to get a diagnosis. It’s better to call out a fake than to do nothing and have it become a serious issue during the school year. The first part of this two part series on test anxiety will go through the causes and how they affect a student.
What causes children to feel test anxiety?
There are a number of factors that contribute to a child experiencing test anxiety. These normally have to do with something within a person that won’t let them relax and focus during an examination. These factors are largely related to a person’s environment and what surrounds him or her. Some of these deciding factors are:
1 . Lack of confidence in one’s abilities
Self-esteem plays a huge role in how children perform during a test. Some children have such low self-esteem that before the test has even started, they have already condemned themselves to a bad grade and have convinced themselves that their efforts are in vain. This type of attitude generates a sense of uncertainty during the test that can ultimately lead to anxiety. Teachers can spot this because students will often start criticizing themselves before or after the test. It’s crucial for teachers to pay attention to how a student reacts to this situation in order to take the appropriate measures to guarantee a student will trust him or herself from here on out.
2 . Bad study habits
Education is something that commands respect and children would be wise to understand this fact. Yes, it’s perfectly normal for children to be a little lazy when it comes to studying for a test. It’s also quite typical for them to procrastinate study time. Doing so will bring forth an unwelcome friend: all night study sessions. By the time the test comes around, those same lazy students will probably stay up all night cramming for the test. Some of the consequences of substandard study habits can be extreme nervousness during a test or looking everywhere instead of the test sheet.
3 . Pressure to succeed from parents or guardians
Parents always want the best for their children. This is a general fact and applies to most of parents. However, when parents set goals which do not really accommodate to a child’s abilities, the pressure can be too much for the child to handle and this will result in negative results. Sometimes, children are more concerned about making their parents happy then about actually learning. In other words, they will just study for a test to get a grade rather than studying to get an education that can help them in life. Parents and children need to understand that failure is noT necessarily a bad thing. Parents must teach their children how to deal with failure from a young age so that they are not always worried about the consequences of not getting an ideal result. Students need to know that failing is not punishment, but rather the chance to get better through more practice.
4. Panic attack stemming from the word “test”
As improbable as this sounds it is absolutely possible. Some people get so stressed out by words like “test,” “exam,” “evaluation,” and similar words that their mind will go blank during the time the evaluation takes place. Ask them afterwards a question from the exam and they are sure to answer correctly. This is because they know they are no longer restrained to a timed event that will assign them a number based on their performance. Words can be so powerful, can’t they?
Succeeding at test-taking requires effort and an ability to stay calm under pressure. Easier said than done. Most people will suffer from test anxiety, but each one to a different extent. Test anxiety can be overcome with the help of some strategies. The Dwyer Family Foundation will cover these in next week’s post of the second part of the two-part series on test anxiety. It’s important to highlight that the things that cause test anxiety can be easily handled, for the most part, by changing certain study habits and by a little bit more concentration towards the task at hand.