Stressed student during a test

Everyone feels a little nervous and stressed out before a test. But in the wake of testing season, many students, as well as educators, have reported an absorbent amount of stress and anxiety for the new 2016 Common Core state examinations. For some schools, this isn’t a big deal. But for a majority of public and charter schools all across the United States, these examinations are an indicator for the overall success rate for both students and schools. As much as we need these scores to help analyze student achievement, we also have to be cognizant of the negative ramifications testing, especially over-testing, can do for our future leaders of tomorrow. Much of which is something we know today as testing anxiety.

In addition to the typical stressors our students face in today’s society such as family fragmentation, peer socialization, and the concept of ‘fitting in,’ children and adolescents in the United States are now faced with a more significant mental health challenge that is impacting them year after year. Testing anxiety, also known as performance anxiety, is a feeling someone might have in a situation where performance really counts or when the pressure to do well hinders your ability to execute. While we usually associate performance anxiety with situations like public speeches or interviews, performance anxiety can also be attributed to testing, so much so that children have been found testing have often led to various breakdowns such as anxiety, crying, or worse, vomiting.

While the situations listed above may sound extreme, the overall feeling of apprehension and uneasiness before testing has clearly grown each and every year, especially with the standards and pressure increasing for both student and educators alike. But why does this happen? How can our stress get the better of us, especially for something like the state exams? To put it frankly, the Common Core State exams are meant to evaluate each individual student holistically. They are meant to test them and their peers across the nation in whether or not they were able to master said-specific material.

To truly understand the mentality of a student, let’s view the state examination in their perspective. Say you are a student and you have participated in class, completed all of your homework, studied hard, and feel confident about the overall material all throughout the year. But suddenly test day comes and the expectation from your teachers, principals, and parents forces you to freeze up, zone out, and black out on the actual test. This situation is something that is relatable, and frankly common, to all children and adolescence during testing season. All of this anxiety is a simple reaction that can oftentimes affect the body and mind from performing its natural duties. It becomes even worse when the students focuses on the negative ramifications of not performing and allow that destructive mentality to derail them during the test.

To learn more about how to deal with testing anxiety, please stay tuned for my next article where I go over various solutions that you can utilize right before the test.