Test anxiety
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Test Anxiety. Presented by Lisa Korte Colorado State University. Anxiety is a natural response to threatening situation Form of the “fight-or-flight” response in body HR rises, BP rises, and Breathing rate rises With tests, primary “threat” is possibility of failure and/or loss of esteem.

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Test Anxiety

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Test anxiety

Test Anxiety

Presented by

Lisa Korte

Colorado State University

Anxiety in general

  • Anxiety is a natural response to threatening situation

  • Form of the “fight-or-flight” response in body

  • HR rises, BP rises, and Breathing rate rises

  • With tests, primary “threat” is possibility of failure and/or loss of esteem

Anxiety in General

Anxiety cont

  • High levels of anxiety can interfere with ability to perform task at hand (i.e.: tests)

  • Stressful emotions inhibit students’ ability to absorb, retain, and recall information

  • Anxiety creates a kind of “noise” or “mental static” in brain that blocks ability to retrieve what is stored in memory

Anxiety Cont.

What is test anxiety

  • Most often defined as a situation-specific trait with emotionality and worry as major components.

  • In the DSM-IV, test anxiety is considered a specific phobia; a situational type anxiety.

  • Research shows approximately 20% of U.S. college students experience some symptoms of test anxiety

  • More common in females than males

What is Test Anxiety?

Common symptoms

  • Physical – headaches, nausea, diarrhea, sweating, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, and/or dry mouth.

  • Emotional – excessive feelings of fear, disappointment, anger, depression, uncontrollable crying, or helplessness.

  • Behavioral – fidgeting, pacing, substance abuse, avoidance.

  • Cognitive – racing thoughts, “going blank,” difficulty concentrating, negative self-talk, feelings of dread.

Common Symptoms


  • Lack of Preparation

  • Poor Test History

  • Fear of Failure

  • Poor Time Management, Study Habits, Lack of Organization


2 types of test anxiety

  • Anticipatory – felt when thinking about taking test

  • Situational – felt when taking test

2 Types of Test Anxiety

5 most common techniques for reducing anxiety

  • Positive thinking

  • Relaxation

  • Preparedness

  • Resignation

  • Concentration

5 Most Common Techniques for Reducing Anxiety

Connection to alcohol use

  • Students with test anxiety are more likely to drink to reduce tension

  • Males report tension reduction as more important reason to drink than women

Connection to Alcohol Use

Recognizing test anxiety

  • Have a hard time studying for an exam

  • Finding things easily distract you when studying for an exam

  • Expectation of failure no matter how much you study

  • During test experience sweaty palms, an upset stomach, a headache, difficulty breathing, and/or muscle tension

  • During test you experience difficulty understanding questions and directions

Recognizing Test Anxiety

Recognizing test anxiety cont

  • Thoughts are unorganized during the test

  • During the test you “draw a blank”

  • During the test you find that your thoughts wander

  • Usually score lower on tests than assignments and papers

  • After the test you can recall information that you couldn’t during the test

Recognizing Test Anxiety Cont.

Before the test

  • Use good study techniques and build confidence

  • Maintain a positive attitude while you study

  • Be well rested and fed (no junk food!)

  • Practice good time management when studying

  • Get organized

  • Take a step by step approach to studying

  • Get help for material you are unsure of

Before The Test

Best environment to study

  • Minimize noise levels

  • Use “do not disturb” sign

  • Make sure room is well lit

  • Cool temperature better than warm

  • Use a desk and a chair with high back

  • Have everything you need handy

Best Environment to Study

Tips for reducing test anxiety

  • Be prepared

  • Develop good test-taking skills

  • Maintain a positive attitude; positive self-talk

  • Address “what if” questions

Tips for Reducing Test Anxiety

Tips cont

  • Stay focused

  • Practice relaxation techniques

  • Stay healthy

  • Seek additional help (counseling center)

Tips Cont.

During the test

  • Read all directions carefully

  • Budget your test taking time

  • Change position to help you relax

  • If you go blank, skip the question and go to the next

During The Test

During the test cont

  • Don’t panic when students turn in test before you

  • Take slow deep breaths

  • Use positive statements (“I can do this”)

  • Eat a small snack to take your mind off the anxiety

During the Test Cont.


  • Questions

  • Ideas

  • Discussion


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