Students under pressure

Illustration by Destiny Kranthoven.

By MICAH SMITH, Ranger Reporter:

Sweaty palms, a rapid heartbeat and a feeling of hopelessness; if you experience any of these symptoms before an exam, you may have test anxiety. Test anxiety is defined as a psychological condition in which people experience high amounts of stress in testing situations.

“Nervous students walk in here every day,” says Alex Inkhamheng, a student worker at the math testing center.

symptomsWhile it is common for students to experience nervousness before a test, the symptoms of test anxiety are not just physical. The impacts of test anxiety can even effect how a student learns and performs on a test. According to a study done by the American Test Anxieties Association, approximately 20 percent of college students nationwide experience high levels of anxiety before taking a test. Right next to depression, test anxiety is one of the largest psychological conditions that impairs scholastic achievement. Test anxiety is certainly at large, and that doesn’t stop at Amarillo College.

“I would say that 70 percent of my peers have test anxiety,” said Austin Vandagriff, a business major.

Fortunately, AC students have many on-campus resources to help combat test anxiety. Student outreach centers that offer free tutoring are open six days a week. The library, located on the fourth floor of the Ware Student Commons, offers computer access for students to study, work on assignments or just browse the internet. Students facing extreme anxiety in testing situations can be accommodated through the AC disability services.

“Extended test time and isolated testing is offered for students with severe test anxiety, but they must provide a physician’s note,” Danette White, administrative clerk of disability services, said.

Overcoming test anxiety isn’t just dependent upon academic preparation; it also takes mental preparation. “Take a deep breath and realize you’re not going to die,” said Vandagriff.

One of the most pertinent symptoms of test anxiety is negative self-talk. While it can often be a coping mechanism to deal with the unforeseeable, talking “down” to oneself can actually hinder one’s performance. The Mayo Clinic recommends that students avoid negative self-talk, learn relaxation techniques and get adequate rest and nourishment. “Combat [test anxiety] with confidence,” said Inkhamheng.  Battling test anxiety isn’t always as simple as studying and getting a full eight hours of sleep, but with confidence and preparation, students can prevail.

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