Test Anxiety Is Not About Tests—Part 1

by Doc Orman, M.D.

Test Anxiety Part 1The week or two before Christmas school break means that students all across America have completed their formal classes and are busy either preparing for or taking final exams.  This is a time of great pressure for many students, and it brings up the problem of test anxiety, which is prevalent for some students all throughout the school year. 

Test anxiety is just one type of anxiety problem that human beings commonly experience.  While most common among young high school, college, and graduate students, it can also be a problem for adults who need to take various tests to qualify for certain jobs, to achieve certain promotions, or even for something as mundane as getting a driver’s license. 

Most Self-Help Solutions Don’t Help 

Despite the prevalence of this common anxiety problem, many of the solutions being offered today are ineffective.  Some people just naturally “grow out” of their test anxiety problems.  But others turn to books, courses, school-sponsored support groups, or even therapy for help—and many times they find these resources lacking. 

As I pointed out in my previous post on stress relief tipitis, one of the reasons many self-help anxiety solutions don’t work is because they don’t go deep enough.  They don’t get down to underlying root causes of a person’s anxiety or other stress-related problems, and therefore they rarely produce lasting fundamental change. 

So, I’ll be focusing all three of my blog post this week on the problem of test anxiety and how it can be dealt with most effectively. The theme for all three posts this week is “Test Anxiety Is Not About Tests.” 

Why Is Test Anxiety Not About Tests? 

If you suffer from test anxiety yourself, the problem isn’t the tests—it’s YOU and how you relate to taking tests.  Thus, if you suffer from test anxiety it’s because you relate to taking tests in ways that produce high levels of anxiety for you, when the very same test do not produce high levels of anxiety for others. 

The “solution” therefore lies in gaining a lot more insight into yourself, and how you may be unwittingly either causing or aggravating this problem, rather than how to study better, how to improve your test taking skills, and how to practice relaxation techniques whenever you begin to panic. 

While all of these skills may be very nice to have, and while they may certainly help to lessen your problem to some degree, you’ve got to dig a heck of a lot deeper into your own individual makeup to identify deeper roots of this problem and to know how to deal with these root causes effectively. 

So stay tuned for Part 2 of this discussion, which will appear here in this blog on Wednesday, December 19th.

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