When thinking about and preparing to take a standardized test, it is natural to have some test anxiety. Many times, students are taking these exams for college, graduate school, or professional school admission, and it is important that they do as well as possible. The path to admission to most pharmacy schools will likely involve tackling some test anxiety. It is important to remember that test preparation can help with this test anxiety.
Test anxiety can have psychological and physical symptoms. Some of the psychological symptoms include racing thoughts, difficulty concentrating, “blanking out,” and discovering that one knows the answer to a test question only after the exam has been completed. Physical symptoms of test anxiety include nausea, sweating, rapid breathing, rapid heart rate, and feeling tense. Any of these factors can negatively impact one’s test performance.
Test preparation can include anything from studying relevant material for an exam to familiarizing oneself with the format of the exam. For many individuals, test anxiety takes the form of being unsure of one’s knowledge of the subject matter. It can be very disconcerting to worry about the material that may or may not appear on an exam. There are a couple of ways one can combat this type of anxiety. First, students should do as much research as possible to determine the content of the exam. Second, students should spend as much time as possible studying for the exam. This will help to focus one’s studying and eliminate those subject areas which are irrelevant.
It is also important to remember that most standardized tests can be taken more than once, and schools will evaluate an applicant based on the highest score achieved. Some exams, like the PSAT/NMSQT, are used by students to practice for an exam which has more relevance to them, like the SAT reasoning test. While practice tests are an invaluable experience when preparing for an exam, the true testing environment is very difficult to mimic. If a student sits for the PSAT/NMSQT, he or she has the experience of arriving at a test site, sitting in an assigned seat, listening to oral instructions, and taking the test in a precise sequence under stringent circumstances. Having a feel for this kind of structure and format can help alleviate test anxiety for those who are wondering what to expect. By the time the student sits for the SAT reasoning test, he or she will already have encountered the closest thing to having previously taken the SAT reasoning test.
Test anxiety can be paralyzing to some individuals and can negatively impact test scores. If one knows that test anxiety can negatively impact one’s test performance, one should learn ways to combat this anxiety beyond the typical preparation for the test. Some individuals may find things, like yoga or meditation, relaxing. Some can be positively impacted by listening to music. Whichever technique to reduce test anxiety works best for a particular individual should be practiced.
For most individuals, test preparation can help reduce test anxiety. The knowledge that tests may be retaken can also help one combat anxiety related to trying to score as high as possible. If these techniques fail, one should investigate other traditional forms of relaxation.