Coping with Test and Academic Anxiety

Scared_ChildToday is the day for an important examination. Your skills at taking this test will help determine how well you do. Academic anxiety can be a significant problem affecting many dissertation students. Many students may have physiological responses such as a rapid heartbeat, elevated blood pressure and shallow breathing. The body prepares itself to deal with stress by reacting in predictable ways. Behavioral patterns may affect your performance as well so you can focus on the task at hand. If so, there are effective techniques that can help you.

First, it is important not to underestimate your coping skills. Developing a calming self dialogue is helpful. Watching your self talk is critical. The next time you find yourself listening to that discouraging voice that is blinking like a neon sign in your head stand up to it! Think of yourself as a close friend. The more you imagine the best the better your life will be. Having determined your ultimate mission of having academic success is non-negotiable. This means that in spite of difficult times you remain committed to obtaining your advanced degree. Be ready to adapt. The negative thoughts may be habitual and it is important that you develop strategic coping thoughts to keep firmly in your mind. An example could be, “I can do this, I have done well before on other tests”. Remember to relax by seeing yourself truthfully and that includes acknowledging and affirming your strong qualities. Rejoice in your academic gifts and your uniqueness. You are in control and need to trust in your talent and your experiences. Remember what your personal motives are for getting your degree.

Identifying the behavior that you want to change is critical. Describe on paper the behavior you want to change. Develop specific separate steps that can be taken to ease your anxiety. You have the power to control your stress responses. How you feel about yourself going into a test situation can affect your future!

It now becomes important to visualize your desired results. Do not let the face of fear define you. It is important to remember that fear is irrational. It is not based on reality. It becomes crucial to trust yourself and have courage. Do not let the fears keep you from doing your best and be there for yourself when the times are difficult. The what-ifs are the children of fear. They almost always never come true. They are a way of trying to control an unknown future. Focusing on what is rather than what if will keep you focused on the here and how.

Make a true commitment to change the way you react to performance anxiety and test taking. You have within you enormous untapped resources of talent and ability. Illuminate the road of your personal journey toward obtaining your advanced degree.

About The Author

Debra Tullis, MSW, LCSW, BCD is a life coach and a clinical therapist. She has a Master’s Degree in Social Work and worked in the social service field for the last 24 years. She is Board Certified in Clinical Social Work and is working toward a certification in life coaching. She is the owner of Coaching for the Good Life and is a member of the International Coach Federation, Coachville, and the International Association of Coaches. To learn more about Debra’s services email her at [email protected] or visit her website at [email protected]

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