Chalk Talk #57

Breathe in…breathe out…

Anxiety, in its many different forms, affects us all, but some more than others. Since there are many different types of anxiety, it is often very challenging to detect it in the classroom.

Maybe you have students who go to class every day, participate in lectures, and do their homework, but for some reason, struggle on every exam. These students could be battling with a common form of anxiety called test anxiety. Test anxiety directly affects test scores and, therefore, your students’ futures.

What’s even more unnerving is the number of students who have test anxiety. According to American Test Anxieties Association, “About 16-20% of students have high test anxiety, making this the most prevalent scholastic impairment in our schools today.”

In order to effectively help these students struggling with test anxiety, you must first be able to recognize the signs of test anxiety.

Signs of Test Anxiety:

Physical Signs
Students who frequently become nauseated before a test, appear sweaty or abnormally pale, and/or experience frequent headaches during exams could be struggling with test anxiety. Please note that a few sporadic headaches don’t indicate anxiety, but if you notice a pattern of these symptoms appearing before or during a test, anxiety may be to blame. 

Emotional Signs
Many students with test anxiety struggle with emotional symptoms such as anger, fear, hopelessness, or worry. Keep an eye on students who seem to display a few of these emotions each time before an exam.

Behavioral/Cognitive Signs
The inability to concentrate is one of the most easily noticeable symptoms of test anxiety. During a test, see if you have students who are constantly looking around the room or fidgeting with their pencil, jewelry, hair, etc. Other signs of test anxiety are negative self-talk and self-doubt. When you talk to a student about their grades, do they act like all hope is lost and it’s not worth trying?

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of test anxiety is the first step in providing students with the resources and care they need to fight it. By fighting test anxiety, students will be able to face the test with more confidence and achieve higher test scores!

Do you have any more tips for recognizing students with test anxiety? We would love to hear them!

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