Many children and young people suffer situation-specific symptoms of anxiety before or during exams. Symptoms can be cognitive, emotional and physiological, and may lower performance in exams. Fortunately, exam anxiety can be greatly reduced using appropriate methods, and the effects on performance minimised.
What are the symptoms of exam-related anxiety?
-Weakness or tiredness
-Difficulty forming thoughts
-Amnesia or forgetfulness
The effects of anxiety during an exam include: difficulty reading and comprehending questions, difficulty organising thoughts, problems recalling concepts and words, failing despite adequate preparation.
Exam anxiety can lead to automatic thoughts of failure in children and adolescents. Thoughts such as “I cannot succeed no matter how hard I try” or “I am good for nothing” are very common triggers for anxiety (Çırakoğlu, 2003). If professional help is not received, anxiety may become chronic. Young people may start using 'avoidance' tactics to escape their anxiety. In severe cases, exam anxiety can trigger anxiety disorder.
It should be noted that everybody experiences anxiety from time to time and that a certain amount of anxiety aids success. Unfortunately, however, anxiety can easily increase in severity and become unhealthy due to the importance laid on exam results and the weight of family expectations.
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