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Test Anxiety

The pressure on high school students can often lead to stress and anxiety. And, while it’s normal to be nervous for a test or examination, test anxiety is a real thing. It’s much more severe than everyday nerves and can even be debilitating, with physical symptoms that can feel a lot like a panic attack: headache, nausea, sweating, rapid heartbeat or shortness of breath. Some individuals may even have a full-blown panic attack before a test.


Test anxiety can affect anyone, regardless of age, intelligence or experience. While some people with test anxiety were diagnosed with a general anxiety disorder in the past, many others just have an intense fear of failure and/or a past history of poor test performance.


Other common symptoms include an inability to concentrate, restlessness, negative thoughts and intense feelings of fear and helplessness.



The best way to manage test anxiety is to control as many variables as possible and to prepare efficiently and effectively.


  • Research effective study methods. What works for some people may not work for you. Try out a few different methods until you find something that works for you.
  • Talk to your teacher/instructor. As professionals, they may have some tips and tricks to help you better learn the material. They may also be willing to offer special accommodations for you on test day to help you succeed.
  • Get plenty of sleep. It may be tempting to stay up late and cram, but you will have better test performance with a night of quality sleep.
  • Create (and stick to!) a pretest routine. Maybe you eat the same breakfast every morning that you have a test or use a lucky pencil.
  • Relaxation techniques can help. Taking deep, calm breaths and consciously relaxing your muscles can help destress you during the test.


It’s important to note that some people with severe test anxiety might also have an underlying learning disability, such as dyslexia or ADHD. Communicate with teachers, counselors and mental health professionals about any test anxiety and academic struggles that you or your child may be facing.


Still need help?  Get help when you need it right from your phone or tablet – visit for more information on scheduling a telehealth visit for counseling or psychiatric services. Your care, anywhere.


To read more on stress and anxiety in teenagers, see our previous post, A+ or Anxiety-Plus at