Test Anxiety: What it is and How to Cope with It

18 July 2022

For students, taking tests is an inescapable part of the academic experience. While some students feel confident and prepared when taking a test, others may feel nervous and anxious. This feeling is called test anxiety, and it can have a profound impact on a student's ability to perform.

Symptoms of Test Anxiety

Test anxiety can manifest itself in physical symptoms like sweating and heart palpitations, as well as mental symptoms like forgetfulness and negative thinking. In severe cases, it can even cause students to freeze up or vomit.

Causes of Test Anxiety

There are a number of factors that can contribute to test anxiety. Some students may feel like they're not prepared for the test, or they may be unsure about the material. Others may have experienced a bad grade on a previous test, which can make them anxious about taking future tests.

There are other causes that should be taken into consideration. Often, children from poor socioeconomic backgrounds are dealing with a lot of psychological issues that are not visible right away and can be tied to other factors, rather than school performance. For example, families with lesser household income can put a lot of pressure on a child because they expect them to become a breadwinner as soon as possible.

This can apply to children from more privileged families. Parents, who are well-educated, generally assume that their children will follow in their footsteps. The pressure to achieve can be very intense in some cases.

Ways to Prevent Test Anxiety

While there are no easy solutions, there are some things that students can do to help cope with their anxiety. Taking practice tests, learning relaxation techniques, and getting a good night's sleep are all proven to help reduce stress levels on test day. With a little bit of preparation, even the most anxious students can find ways to succeed.

Practice and Rest

The recommended amount of sleep for a grown person is between 6 to 8 hours and can vary between individuals. It is proven that children and teenagers have to sleep more to rest properly. In the week preceding the test, students have to prioritize sleep, even if it means neglecting other activities, like after-school hobbies.

Taking a practice test is also a wonderful way to blow off some steam. Tests can be prepared by parents or found online.  If there were any problems with how to calculate the test score, here are many useful tools, like Omnicalculator.

Making a Study Plan

Making a study plan can help to prevent test anxiety in several ways. First, it can help the student to focus on the most important parts of the material so that they don't feel like they're trying to learn everything at once. Second, it can help them to break the material down into manageable chunks, so that you don't feel overwhelmed by the amount of information you need to know. Third, it can help you to create a schedule for studying so that they don't feel like you're running out of time. All of these things can reduce your stress levels and help them to feel more confident going into the test.

How to Relax and Focus Moments Before the Test

The moment before the test is crucial. Even well-prepared students can indulge in some behavior that will make the anxiety go out of the roof. Luckily, there are known and tried relaxation techniques that might help. Some of them might work on an individual better, so it's best to try it out beforehand.

Why are We Like That?

When our predecessors were faced with a stressor, their bodies would respond by releasing a surge of hormones that would help them to fight or flee the threat. This 'fight-or-flight' response was essential for survival in a world where dangerous predators and other threats were a regular part of life.

Today, we are no longer constantly surrounded by dangers, but our bodies still respond to stress in the same way. While this response can sometimes be helpful, it can also lead to problems when we are constantly exposed to high levels of stress.


Meditation can be a form of "freeze". The student has to just stop and become aware of their surroundings as well as their physical body. There are also plenty of breathing exercises that can be found on the internet.

Listening to Music

Listening to music is some form of escapism but also can be used as a preparation for the "fight". Putting up some motivating tunes can increase confidence as well as energy levels by helping to release dopamine.

Quick Walk

Flight response is natural. A student should take a quick walk or even run up the stairs a few times to help deactivate the ticking bomb.

Photo: Unsplash

How to Cope with Test Anxiety When it Hits

There are a number of things that students can do to cope with test anxiety when it hits. First, it's important to identify the causes of the anxiety. Once they know what is triggering the test anxiety, they can begin to address those issues by practicing positive self-talk.

After the test, students can relieve some of the tension by trying to calculate their results with Omnicalculator. It will help them unwind and stop worrying about the score.

What to Do if a Student Has a Panic Attack During a Test

From the teacher's perspective, test anxiety also can be stressful. Educators often care deeply about their pupils and they have to be prepared for anything. This includes knowing how to handle a student who has a panic attack during a test.

The first thing to do is stay calm. This will help the student feel more comfortable and in control. Next, provide the student with a quiet space where they can relax and breathe. If possible, let the student take the test in another room or at a later date. Finally, be sure to follow up with the student after the incident to see how they are doing and to offer any additional support. By remaining calm and offering support, you can help a student through a difficult moment and ensure that they are able to succeed.


While test anxiety is a real and valid condition, there are ways to cope with it. Parents and teachers have to create safe conditions for children and help them learn ways to deal with difficulties. By making a study plan, getting plenty of rest, and practicing positive self-talk, students can minimize the impact of test anxiety and improve their chances of success.

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