Personal Narratives

I overcame my test anxiety, and you can do it too

May 15, 2023

By Martine Rivas
Staff Writer

Towards the end of the school year, many students experience anxiety because of major assessments including state testing and quarterlies. Test anxiety is a performance anxiety that can cause physical and emotional symptoms such as sweating, nausea and racing thoughts. It is normal to feel nervous or anxious in these high-stakes situations, but there is also a lot students can do to keep their nerves under control.

Before I developed coping mechanisms, my test anxiety would occasionally get so severe that I would not be able to finish my test on time. Thankfully, I learned how to overcome my stress, and here’s how I did it:

Understanding why test anxiety happens in the first place is the initial step a person needs to take to get over it. In my case, I was scared to fail or do poorly on my tests no matter how well I knew the material. If you can relate to that, my biggest tip is to try to change the way you are thinking. Focus on the preparation you have to do instead of dwelling on the potential of failure. Keep in mind your past achievements and recognize that you are capable of passing or acing the test.

I learned from experience that overworking myself only makes me more anxious.

It is also a good idea to establish strong study habits. You can lessen your nervousness and feel more confident in your abilities by having a study routine that you follow whenever you are preparing for a test. To avoid burnout, I divide my study periods into reasonable chunks and make sure to take regular breaks. I learned from experience that overworking myself only makes me more anxious.

It is also important to look after one’s physical and emotional health. Therefore, I make sure to get enough sleep and maintain a nutritious diet. Higher grades, alertness, faster information processing and improved memory are all linked to healthy eating. Foods high in fiber, protein and good fats keep a person fuller longer and provide people with the energy they need to concentrate and stay awake. According to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, not getting enough sleep, especially on school nights, can affect a student’s performance in school and cause anxiety.

Another practice I use to stay calm is doing deep breathing exercises. According to the American Institute of Stress, deep breathing boosts the delivery of oxygen to the brain and stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, which promotes relaxation. It also draws attention away from anxiety and calms the mind.

Finally, if a person needs help, they should not be scared to ask for it. I regularly talk about my anxiety with friends, family members, teachers, my school counselor and my therapist. Talking to my older brother has been especially helpful because he introduced me to a variety of coping mechanisms. 

After I learned how to cope with my test anxiety, I felt a lot more comfortable taking tests and exams. This change not only improved my mental health but also made a big difference in my grades and overall performance in school.

Many high school students suffer from test anxiety, but it does not have to ruin how they feel about school. Students can overcome test anxiety and do their best on assessments by realizing why their anxiety is occurring, maintaining healthy study habits, taking care of their physical and mental well-being and seeking support.

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