Test, Performance and Exam anxiety

It is common to experience anxiety when facing exams, presentations or other types of situations characterized by other peoples' judgment. The anxiety is usually not related to poor skills or preparation, it is often more related to preconceptions of how other people see you or how the experience of failing will affect you.

The anxiety may be related to one or more bad experiences with being exposed or judged. However, this is nor necessarily the case.

Basically, anxiety is a fundamental human response that helps our body become the most effective survivor in situations where we are threatened and need to get in touch with our most basic defense responses: Our ability to either fight, flee or freeze. When the body goes into this state of alarm it is no longer able to carry out more complex functions, like concentration and memory. This is one reason why exam anxiety in itself leads to poor performance.

Treating exam anxiety is partly to obtain a greater understanding of the thoughts and feelings associated with the anxiety and partly creating situations where anxiety is active, but in a manageable way. What is most important to me is to find a balance where you feel safe while doing the very challenging work of exposing yourself to anxiety provoking situations.

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