It’s common at the beginning of the year to feel nervous about the first few tests, however, there are ways to cope with test anxiety.
Jordan Burko Macatee, a licensed psychologist at Auburn’s Student Counseling Services, said test anxiety is a type of performance anxiety and a moderate level of it is not necessarily bad.
“Anxiety is a natural reaction,” she said. “When it is heightened or interferes with other activities and things we need to do, that’s when we consider it problematic.”
People can be more likely to experience test anxiety if they have anxiety in other areas. Negative past experiences — being unprepared, cramming or not feeling confident with the material or one’s ability — can all be reasonings for why someone may be having test anxiety, she said.
“The good thing about anxiety and test anxiety, is they are things we can treat, and that people can recover from,” Burko Macatee said.
She said one of the best things a person can do to help with anxiety is focus on general health by sleeping well, eating well and doing some kind of physical activity.
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Burko Macatee said practicing relaxation techniques before or during a test can also help. This includes deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, practicing mindfulness through meditation and visualization.
Before a test, students are welcome to book 30-60 minute sessions in the Zen Den at the Student Counseling Services’ Haley Center office. The Zen Den is a relaxation zone that includes a massage chair, yoga mats and light therapy.
Burko Macatee said another option is Mindful Mondays, a mindful and meditation-based class held at Auburn University Campus Recreation and Wellness Center at 4 p.m. She said some of the skills taught in the class can be used as relaxation techniques.
Also, on Mondays at 8 a.m. and Thursdays at 4 p.m., Moose and Nessie, the Student Counseling Services’ therapy dogs, meet outside the Student Center Starbucks for people to join in a three-mile walk around campus.
Other tools to cope with test anxiety are shifting one’s focus away from the test to give the mind a break, developing a routine before a test to feel more centered and assessing how negative thoughts might be contributing to anxiety, she said.
After a test, it’s good to reward yourself with something small as a way to cap it off and celebrate getting over a challenging situation, Burko Macatee said.
If test anxiety is something that continues, she said Student Counseling Services offers individual therapy and a workshop series called The Anxiety Toolbox, which teaches strategies to manage anxiety.
Other resources on campus include Academic Support Services and, depending on the severity, the Office of Accessibility may be able to help provide accommodations
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