The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Test time sends students into frenzy

Test time sends students into frenzy

By Alex Muhindura/ne news editor

p14testtimeIt’s a Thursday in early December as the empty seats fill with frightened freshmen. Students trudge in as if their stay of execution was recently denied.

The normal banter has been replaced with an eerie silence. As the teacher makes the rounds distributing Scantron sheets, hands start perspiring, heart rates mimic machine gun cadences and heads once crammed with dates, theories and verb conjugations feel like blank slates.

“ I feel really nervous because I don’t know what I should do,” said NE student Tyler Dewitt.

With finals around the corner, every student will experience some sort of test anxiety. It may be as benign as butterflies in the stomach or as extreme as painful migraines. Many students said they feel fine if prepared, but those who do not study tend to dread that fateful day the most.

“ My brain won’t stop, and I’m just worried if I studied enough,” said NE student Nina Didio.

NE psychology instructor Michael Leffingwell said anxiety is the most common form of psychological disorders, and it comes with some physiological, emotional and mental parts.

For example, a person feeling anxious before a test may have sweaty palms or an increased heart rate.

The student’s mind may also race as he or she panics and worries about the possible failure ahead. It can even have a negative effect on cognitive functions like the mind blanking out and being unable to think critically or problem solve.

“ Anxiety could trigger stress, which affects the immune system,” Leffingwell said. “It’s very common for people, after they finish taking tests or a very stressful event in their life and they relax, to get sick. It’s why a lot of people get sick on the weekends.”

NE student Randy Clegg said students get worked up and let their minds race. They worry about the test then realize they may fail and get put on academic probation. Then the train starts rolling. As students spend more time worrying about failing, it may become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

“ There’s definitely a correlation between high levels of distress and poor test performance,” Leffingwell said.

“ Now, I will say that some anxiety can be good. There is a good type of stress that can make you rise to the occasion. You see it in athletes all the time.”

“ Some individuals just totally shut down though. You may have someone who is so worked up that they decide not to show up or someone who sits down and they have so much anxiety their mind totally goes blank.”

Leffingwell said anxiety can snowball and impact memory recall, critical thinking abilities and a lot of the skills required to perform well on a test.

Some, however, feel test anxiety is overblown and can be avoided with work and preparation.

“ You can prevent it by good, old-fashioned studying and asking questions in class,” said NE student Oludipo Oyediran. “It sounds a little egotistical, but I’m never that scared of a test.”

Leffingwell said students should not concentrate on one test. They should get involved from day one and try learning the material because reading the night before will not allow them to recall the information.

“ There’s a strategy where you survey the chapter headings and then take notes and form questions from the general skim,” Leffingwell said. “You then go back, read the chapter and answer the questions you had written down earlier.”

Tests tend to bring out fear even if a student prepares. Sometimes it’s what happens during the exam that raises the blood pressure.

“ I had just finished a Scantron while using the entire allotted time when I realized I had skipped a number,” NE student Daniel Lim said.

“ I had to go back, erase all the answers and fill it out again.”

Preparation greatly reduces anxiety while improving scores, nobody is immune to the jitters that run through every prospective test taker. Even professionals who have advanced up the academic ladder through rigorous exams are bothered by the fear of failure.

“ I have a recurring dream where I’m back in college walking down this huge hall for my final, and I am completely unprepared,” Leffingwell said.

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