Testing Anxiety

Caroline Wenzel, Contributing Writer

With finals week approaching, students are likely to experience test anxiety. The University’s Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) specializes in providing education about study strategies.

“What we tell students about test anxiety is that preparing early and effectively is the best antidote. Working closely with the professor and being proactive about studying in the way you will be tested are essential. For instance, unless you’re being given a reading-only test, don’t merely study by reading. Instead, study by summarizing, analyzing, comparing/contrasting, writing down what you remember and checking what you missed, predicting and asking yourself test questions, practicing working without notes and with time limits, pushing yourself to do the hardest and least familiar work, etc. The other things that I tell students are that managing anxiety can happen in lots of ways, but two important categories are Calming and Controlling,” Assistant Director of Student Learning Support Laura Lanwermeyer said.

Lanwermeyer said that test anxiety can be serious, and students should reach out to the Counseling and Student Development Center (CSDC) first. The CSDC offers self-help resources, which include web links or counselors willing to offer personal guidance. An interview with Assistant Director of the CSDC Marie Shaw reveals some insight and tips for students who are already feeling anxious, and offers tools to help battle stress.

What are some strategies you would recommend for finals?

There are a lot of helpful strategies listed on our website–check out the Test Anxiety link under Self-Help resources: http://www.bucknell.edu/counseling-and-student-development-center/self-help-resources/web-sites.html. One method in particular is about building confidence through general preparation. If you feel prepared, then you feel more confident instead of stressed.

Do you think most students try to use these strategies?

Many students could benefit from enhanced study strategies and time management skills. Additionally, many students neglect stress management strategies during finals, which is actually when they should be utilizing those strategies the most!

What are some things students should avoid doing during finals?

Students should avoid pulling all-nighters and excessive use of caffeine/stimulants. They should also continue to focus on self-care and stress management (e.g., go to the gym, take breaks to eat meals with friends, regular sleep schedule, etc.)

What are some of the most frequent concerns these students have?

The most common presenting concerns at the CSDC are (1) anxiety, (2) depression, and (3) relationship concerns.

What would you tell students who don’t seek help, but are facing test anxiety on their own?

I would encourage them to utilize good study skills and engage in stress management and self-care activities. I recommend connecting with the TLC by checking out their website (http://www.bucknell.edu/tlc). There are also a lot of great strategies on the CSDC website, under the Self-Help tab, including Relaxation and Mindfulness exercises, information about Test Anxiety, and a listing of smart phone apps to assist with relaxation and self-care: http://www.bucknell.edu/counseling-and-student-development-center/self-help-resources/web-sites.html.

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