Test Anxiety Rises

Morgan Koehler, Editor

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   For some students, tests are the bane of their academic experience. Once a test is placed before them, they get choked up with anxiety and often do badly on the test. 

   The percentage of students who are affected with moderate to severe test anxiety is rising, and while it is not clear how many students suffer from this, it is estimated to be about a total of thirty-eight percent of the school-going population, according to the American Test Anxiety Association.

   One such student is Abby Oisecki.

   Oisecki has never been diagnosed with test anxiety, but she is sure that she has it. One look at the test paper, and Oisecki forgets everything she learned throughout the year.

   She is unsure as to when this started, but she pointed to eighth grade as a possible suspect. However, she has always been nervous taking tests.

   Oisecki says the anxiety depends on what subject the test is on. Advanced Placement European History is her worst.

   “I can’t do the multiple choice,” Oisecki says. “If I get a B, I’m pretty happy.”

   However, math tests are fine.

   “It’s worse with teachers who are stricter with grading,” she says.

   Oisecki feels that her AP European History class would be less test anxiety inducing if she had some homework in order to feel more prepared.

   To prepare for a test, Oisecki makes sure she got proper sleep and nutrition the day of the test. Otherwise, she has no strategies.

   Guidance counselors are an excellent resource for those struggling with test anxiety. Mrs. Lisa Banks, a guidance counselor at D.C. Everest High, explains how they approach students who want help with their test anxiety.

   Causes of test anxiety varies with the student. For some, it’s being in large groups. For others, it’s worrying about time constraints. Even noise can throw off someone with test anxiety. Tapping fingers, twirling pencils, and clicking tongues are some examples.

   “All the counselors will work on techniques to help them, such as relaxation techniques,” Mrs. Banks says.

   Sometimes she utilizes cognitive behavior therapy, which looks at the root of the problem and how to overcome it. Other times, she tries to help students internalize that they know the material.

   With the rise of test anxiety in the student population, one must wonder what is causing that increase. Evidence seems to suggest that it has increased alongside the increase in standardized testing. Test anxiety is also reliant on many different factors, such as how well someone retains information and their history of test taking. If someone has a history of doing badly on tests, they are more likely to be anxious on future tests.

   The rise of test anxiety is yet another reason why schools should reduce standardized testing instead of trying to increase it. These additional tests are making students more stressed and they cannot perform at their best. Standardized testing is meant to measure someone’s academic capabilities, but it is counterintuitive if that same testing is making students so stressed that they cannot perform at their best, and thus getting lower scores overall.

   For those who have test anxiety, they consider going to the guidance office and speaking with their counselor. Perhaps the counselor may be able to help reduce anxiety and form strategies in order for the students to do better on tests.