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Test anxiety: Can it be treated?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/test-anxiety/AN02021
- With Mayo Clinic psychiatrist
Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D.read biographyclose window
Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D.Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D.
Dr. Daniel Hall-Flavin, board certified in general psychiatry and addiction psychiatry, is a St. Louis native looking to the Internet as a way to help people improve their health and be more active participants in their own health care by learning from Mayo Clinic's experts.
Dr. Hall-Flavin served on the faculties of Cornell University Medical College, New York Medical College and The George Washington University Medical School before joining the Mayo Clinic staff in 1996. He has special interests in adult psychiatry, addiction psychiatry, pharmacogenetics and personalized medicine. He served as medical director of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence from 1986 to 1999, and is currently involved in translational medicine research involving the introduction of pharmacogenetic technology into the daily practice of community psychiatry.
"With the advent of pharmacogenetics and related fields and the advances in translational medicine, informed collaborative relationships between knowledgeable, capable health professionals and informed, proactive individuals and their families are more vital than ever," he said.
"I'm optimistic that our Internet health education activities will contribute to ever-improving health outcomes for all who participate and apply what is learned."
- Depression and anxiety: Can I have both?
Treatments and drugs (1)
- Test anxiety: Can it be treated?
Lifestyle and home remedies (2)
- Herbal treatment for anxiety: Is it effective?
- Coping with anxiety: Can diet make a difference?
Test anxiety: Can it be treated?
Is it possible to overcome test anxiety?
from Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D.
A number of things can reduce test anxiety and increase your performance on test day.
A little nervousness before a test is normal and can help sharpen your mind and focus your attention. But with test anxiety, feelings of worry and self-doubt can interfere with your test-taking performance and make you miserable. Test anxiety can affect anyone, whether you're a primary or secondary school student, college student, or employee who has to take tests for career advancement or certification.
Here are some things that may help reduce your test anxiety:
- Learn how to study efficiently. Your school may offer study-skills classes or other resources that can help you learn study techniques and test-taking strategies. You'll feel more relaxed if you systematically study and practice the material that will be on a test.
- Establish a consistent pre-test routine. Learn what works for you, and follow the same steps each time you're getting ready to take a test. This will ease your stress level and help assure you that you're well prepared.
- Learn relaxation techniques. There are a number of things you can do right before and during the test to help you stay calm and confident, such as deep breathing, relaxing your muscles one at a time, or closing your eyes and imagining a positive outcome.
- Don't forget to eat and drink. Just like muscles in your body, your brain needs fuel to function. Eat the day of the test so that you're not running on empty when test time arrives. Also, drink plenty of water. Avoid sugary drinks such as soda pop, which can cause your blood sugar to peak and then drop, or caffeinated beverages such as energy drinks or coffee, which can increase anxiety.
- Get some exercise. Regular aerobic exercise, and exercising on exam day, can release tension.
- Get plenty of sleep. Sleep is directly related to academic performance. Preteens and teenagers especially need to get regular, solid sleep.
- Talk to your teacher. Make sure you understand what's going to be on each test and know exactly how to prepare. In addition, let your teacher know that you feel anxious when you take tests. He or she may have suggestions to help you succeed.
- Don't ignore a learning disability. Test anxiety may improve by addressing an underlying condition that interferes with the ability to learn, focus or concentrate, for example, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or dyslexia. In many cases, a student diagnosed with a learning disability is entitled help with test taking, such as extra time to complete a test or having questions read aloud.
- See a professional counselor. Talk therapy (psychotherapy) with a psychologist or other mental health provider can help you work through feelings, thoughts and behaviors that cause or worsen anxiety. Check to see if your school has counseling services available or if your employer offers them through an employee assistance program.
Herbal treatment for anxiety: Is it effective?
- Ergene T. Effective interventions on test anxiety reduction: A meta-analysis. School Psychology International. 2008;24:323.
- Harris HL, et al. Helping students cope with test anxiety. ERIC Digest. Education Resources Information Center. http://www.ericdigests.org/2005-2/anxiety.html. Accessed June 15, 2011.
- Test anxiety. Anxiety Disorders Association of America. http://www.adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/children/test-anxiety. Accessed June 16, 2011.