How to get over test anxiety

In my 18 years of life, I have never once met someone who enjoys taking a test. Whether it be a simple pop quiz or a final exam that counts for the majority of a grade, they’re all just terrible. I understand that tests are an important part of getting an education, but filling in miniature bubble after miniature bubble on scan-tron sheets brings about a fear in me unlike anything else I have ever experienced.

I think it all started when I was in the third grade. Our class was on the fifth day of the yearly standardized testing and my 8-year-old brain was struggling to keep up. I came across a question I wasn’t sure about, so I skipped it, promising myself that I would get back around to it. As luck would have it, I did not get back around to the question. Instead, I filled in the answer to the next question in the space I skipped, and so on until the end of test when I realized I had an extra row left at the bottom.

On the verge of tears, I explained my dilemma to my teacher, who ended up collecting my test and saying, “Don’t worry, we can take care of it later.” The infamous, ‘we’ll take care of it later’ spiel, I’d come to hear many more times in my educational career, but I never saw that test again.

When the results came in the mail a few weeks later, I realized just how horribly I had done on the test. Thankfully the test wasn’t being put into the grade book, but I was still ashamed. From that day on, every scan-tron test I took was checked and rechecked a thousand times before being handed in.

My mishap with those evil little bubbles made me a nervous test taker for years that followed. It was not just that incident that caused my distaste for test taking, but other small events that added to my anxieties as well.

For instance, when my math teacher began requiring a parent signature on all tests or the time when the test was nothing like the study guide.

In all seriousness, the only way I have been able to get past some of my testing hang-ups is through studying and asking the teacher for clarification on things I don’t understand. Through these mistakes, I have learned a lot about myself as well as the test taking system, that being neither is perfect. So, for my fellow test haters out there, be sure to study as much as you can, take a deep breath and make sure you go back to the questions you skipped.