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What is test anxiety?

Michele Borba
Allergy
These days it seems for many kids -- even if they've studied hard and done their homework -- when test day comes they're hit with a wave of panic. Butterflies hit their stomach and their heads are filled with a wave of negative thoughts: "I'm going to flunk." "I'm so dumb." And then their mind goes blank.

Diagnosis: "Test Anxiety." It's a growing new condition for students these days. Almost 20 percent of tweens and teens experience test anxiety, but with today's high-stakes testing, the condition is being diagnosed in even our youngest students.

Make no mistake, test-taking anxiety can be costly to our children's academic success as well as their emotional and physical well-being. What's more, stress from test anxiety can reduce kids' ability to focus and cause them to even "choke" on those answers that they studied for.

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While it is normal to feel some dreaded apprehension about taking an exam, test anxiety takes emotions to a whole new level. Test anxiety is a psychological and physical condition that can cause problematic symptoms that occur before or during a test. Learning to recognize and cope with the symptoms of test anxiety can help those affected feel more empowered and in control during a test situation. Below are some strategies to help ease test anxiety.

5 Strategies to Cope with Test Anxiety
1. Don't fight your feeling of stress. Recognize that your stress is trying to help you get ready for the upcoming test. Stress is not your enemy, unless you make it one.
2. Don't procrastinate, plan your study time wisely. Get the upper hand on the upcoming test by strategically mastering small amounts of material at a time.

3. Take care of the basic stress busters in life. These three little things can make a huge difference.
Basic #1 – Eat well
Basic #2 – Get plenty of sleep
Basic #3 –Exercise

4. Live in the present. Anxiety likes to catapult us into the future land of "what if". Stay grounded in today, for odds are the "what if" may never happen.

5. Make "me" time. Find some time to relax and unwind, you deserve it!
 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.