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Counselor's Corner

This week’s topic: “Test Anxiety or Real Fear?”


Published (Volume 76, No. 31)


Around finals, students start talking about “test anxiety.”

Sometimes test anxiety is the cause of low exam grades, but it can be tricky to distinguish true “test anxiety” from other reasons for poor test performance.

What is “test anxiety?” It’s a heightened state of bodily arousal (has nothing to do with sex) which interferes with academic performance during a test. Some students become so panicked that their brain function just seems to shut down. The good news is that test anxiety is a treatable condition.

It is normal to have a certain degree of nervousness about tests. Some anxiety can help you to study more effectively and perform better on the exam.

Too much anxiety is a hindrance. 

Ask yourself these questions:

(1) Have I really been putting in adequate study time?

(2) Having I been working consistently all semester?

(3) Do I understand what college-level studying is all about?

(4) Have I paid attention to what my professor wants? 

(5) Have I corrected insufficient knowledge on an ongoing basis? 

(6) Have I used the resources available to me?

(7) Have I learned some simple anxiety management techniques? 

(8) Have you practiced writing out your answers to exam questions? 

If you have not used these suggestions this semester, work on implementing the ones you can do short-term and resolve that you will start off right next semester. 

Don’t let anxiety hurt your grades and your learning.  There’s a lot you can do to make things better.

If you think you may have test anxiety, visit the Counseling Center.