Sunday, February 21, 2010

Test Anxiety In Focus

Test Anxiety In Focus

Test Anxiety is one of the frequently complained about and most
universal manifestations of the overall experience of anxiety, which everyone,
sooner or later, undergoes.
What is anxiety? Anxiety is about fearing to go into things out of our
control. It does not matter if the feared situation is external, like not
doing well on
tests, or whether it is internal, like not being able to control our
feelings. The personal experience of anxiety is the same.
We feel a indefinable sense of apprehension, which if allowed to form,
crescendos into something that can be quite excruciating .
The most accessible cure for such an event is to stop thinking what
we are thinking. The protective strategy is that whatever it is that
stimulates anxiety should be avoided. Then again, if it is the
environment in which we find ourselves, the simplest solution is
to leave. These are quick fixes for anxiety, and often work when
the anxiety is low, or when we can control what we think or where
we are.
However, other kinds of anxiety are not so easy to limit.
Test taking anxiety is about being not ready for a test, or
having to do really well "or else." One cannot just leave the
state of affairs behind or just go away, physically.
To manage this particular form of anxiety, one has to first ascertain
what specifically triggers the fear. (BTW, anxiety is usually
thought of as unfocused fear; that is, we are afraid of something
but just do not know of what. Since test anxiety is specific, we
might just as well label it test fear, not test anxiety.) It could
be lots of things. Have you not studied enough so you fear just not
knowing enough answers? Are you competing with others who you
perceive to be better trained, or smarter? Is there a bigger
outcome if you do not do well? (Think final exams vs.
mid-term quizzes.)
To manage test anxiety, as with most experiences of anxiety, try to
break the experience down into less significant categories. Think baby
in popular or colloquial speech. As with most things, the smaller the steps
are the easier they are to control. Moreover, try not to think of
the ultimate outcome; rather, focus on the actual steps, letting
them add up one by one. It does not take long to become conscious of the
steps are manageable. Without thinking of the final goal, managing
smaller steps inevitably leads to the bigger goal, which is to reduce
test anxiety, in this case from the inside out.
Here is an example. Suppose there are eleven chapters to master
before a final exam. You could be concerned about the degree of material,
fretting that with so many chapters, surely there will be something to
forget, hence lower your grade. Or, you could focus solely on
Chapter One. The idea is to be "in the moment" with a smaller step,
in this case paying attention to only one chapter. Just deal with that,
and then ask your roommate, parent or significant other to quiz you if
there are no quizzes at the back of the chapter. Master one chapter.
When this is finished, you have lowered your anxiety a bunch.
Does not seem like much? Study Chapter Two and do the same thing,
while reviewing Chapter One. Now you have mastered more,
plus gotten a sense that this project is doable, and so on.
Sadly, many people do not stay in the moment, nor do they
break their experiences down into controllable units. These are the
people who are prone to take on anxiety disorders proper, of which
there are many. If you think this is your experience, this author
has written an ebook that shows you exactly how to assess your own
experience of anxiety, and a lot more, especially if you are a
do-it-yourself type.

-Dr. Griggs

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