Test Anxiety can be a common issue for students during any stage of education. However, the relative levels of anxiety can often increase during high school and college when good performance on a test becomes seemingly more important. Even though some anxiety is a normal, healthy response to important events in our lives, test anxiety can become especially problematic if it impacts performance during the time spent preparing for and taking tests.

Common signs of test anxiety can include:

  • Physical symptoms of nervousness such as sweaty palms, increased heart-rate, shaky hands, etc.
  • Feelings of nausea or butterflies before and during a test
  • Forgetting information during a test that can be easily remembered before or after a test
  • Difficulty concentrating during a test
  • Difficulty sleeping the night before a test
  • Feelings of dread and/or panic when preparing to study for a test
  • Feelings of dread and/or panic immediately before and during a test

The above is not an exhaustive list, but rather examples of some of the more common symptoms. Individuals experiencing test anxiety can exhibit all, more, or only a few of these symptoms. Moreover, symptom severity can vary from person to person.

There are a number of strategies for dealing with test anxiety that can vary depending on what symptoms you exhibit most strongly (and when) and also what events trigger the anxiety. Although there are a number of excellent resources on line, it can be difficult to determine on your own which approach(es) will best bring you relief. If you feel anxiety is causing a significant impact on your performance, consider meeting with a local counselor who has experience in this area and will work with you to develop a strategy that is specific to your individual needs. Your counselor may also be able to work with your professors to make accommodations to your testing environment that can help reduce anxiety levels during a test if it is determined these arrangements would be beneficial.