Anxiety is a natural emotion experienced in any stressful situation and is a natural part of life. Taking exams is a stressful and worrying practice for students. Every student experiences and feels the effects of anxiety in different ways, depending on exams. In fact, having some anxiety has positive effects on showing the best performance. The amount of adrenaline secreted during anxiety has an important stimulating effect and a significant role in focusing attention.
However, during excessive anxiety, the intense secretion of adrenaline prevents the transfer of information, causing a number of physical symptoms and panic. The effects of exam anxiety range from forgetting knowledge to becoming physically ill. The level of anxiety affects the preparation for the exam and the performance in the exam, but when this effect is negatively reflected in performance, "exam anxiety" becomes a problem.
If you feel empty and like you have forgotten everything you know along with some physical changes during the exam and if you are able to answer the exam questions in a free environment when you are relaxed after the exam, this means that you have exam anxiety.
Professor Pınar Tınaz, the dean of Beykoz University's Faculty of Social Sciences, emphasized that there are many personal and social reasons for exam anxiety.
"Failure to prepare for the exam adequately, poor use of time for exam preparation, lack of effective study and undeveloped problem solving methods play a role in the symptoms of exam anxiety. The unrealistic think
ing of students about exams and the negative meanings attributed to exams are among the most important factors in experiencing this problem. Students develop a large number of unrealistic thoughts and attitudes, such as feeling like they will be unsuccessful no matter how hard they have studied before, and associate their success in exams with the success in life. Another important factor affecting exam anxiety is that students do not have realistic expectations about the exam. The high expectations of the social environment and especially parents increase this anxiety," Tınaz said.
Signs of anxiety
There are also physiological symptoms of exam anxiety. They are a number of symptoms, such as an acceleration of breathing and heartbeat, nausea, headache and sleep disturbances. Emotional symptoms like anger, restlessness, irritability and pessimism accompany these physiological symptoms.
Perhaps the most relevant symptoms of anxiety with preparing for the exam and answering questions during the exam are cognitive. Cognitive symptoms include distraction, forgetfulness, inability to focus, and insufficient and worthless thinking. Because of anxiety, students have difficulty organizing their thoughts, answering questions about what they know, and focusing on exam content. Therefore, it is important for students to learn and apply emotional, cognitive and behavioral coping methods with exam anxiety.
In order to reduce the anxiety of exams, it is necessary to pay attention to physical health first. Healthy eating should be supported by regular sleep and exercise. Breathing and relaxation exercises before and during the exam when it is necessary also reduce the effects of anxiety. Effective working habits and question-solving styles should be adopted. When preparing for the exam, it is important not to study on the last night and especially to finish the studying period a few days before the exam.
Another important thing to do is the formation of a new mental structure by students. Reducing unrealistic thoughts and expectations, negative automatic thoughts and negative emotions that emerge during the exam with logical explanations are important for students to develop a positive attitude toward the exams and to establish the belief that they will be successful in the exam. Physical exercises can be helpful during this stage.
Parents also play an important role in helping students cope with exam anxiety. They should not reflect their own concerns on their children. They should have realistic expectations for their children, listen to and try to understand them. In addition, it is important for students to feel the support of their parents.
If the ways of coping with exam anxiety are ineffective and coping with high levels of anxiety cannot be tried, psychological support can also be helpful. This is also true if it is unsuitable or harmful to the individual or if the method used to cope with anxiety or functionality is impaired due to anxiety symptoms or behavioral disorders are observed.