Test taking anxieties = flunking out of school - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 03-21-2014, 11:51 AM Thread Starter
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Thumbs up Test taking anxieties = flunking out of school

So I'm in need of a bit of guidance before I go talk to my adviser for school.

I'm awful in tests. I literally have panic attacks before each test and hyperventilate (this also includes anxieties a week before where I lose hair, fingernails, have insomnia that only lets me have about three hours or less of sleep every two days, and get really sick). During the tests I cannot remember the material or I'm so stressed out I can't calm myself down to think and do well. None of the "relieve your stress" test workshops have helped (in fact they made it worse....) and it's getting to the point where I'm beginning to doubt that I can make it in college.

For example in my language class (which I'm proficient in) my prof pulled me aside to ask me what was wrong. I've failed every single test. She did some assessments with me and I know the material, she said I'm one of her best students but my test scores are bad. (Several other teachers have also made these remarks.) I've always been like this with any tests but some I can manage to make it through fairly well (Biology is an example of this, I can still have my melt downs and get a good grade like a C or above in the test. I figure it's because that subject just clicks with me more easily than the others. The stress is still there though.)

I don't get stressed in work or emergency situations, just when taking a test. I'm trying to figure out ways to calm down but short of taking Dramamine to ease my symptoms (as Doctors suggested) I'm still a mental wreck. I have an appointment with my adviser about my schedule and I'm wondering what my options are? I'm not trying to get out of tests at all, I'm just trying to find a way to survive them especially since they're the majority of my grade. It makes this hard to convince anyone that I'm telling the truth because I don't have any learning disabilities or other influences. Anyone else had this problem?

I'm in the process of scheduling an appointment with a psychiatrist to see what might be bugging me, I'm hedging my bets on bad experiences with tests and teachers; but I really am not keen in experimenting with anxiety meds or messing with my brain chemistry (especially since there's a history on both sides of my family with dyslexia, schizophrenia, IED, bipolar disorder, and a few others.) And my adviser hasn't been helping by telling me through phone calls/emails every day to shape up or ship out.

Anyone got any ideas or maybe had this experience? I had one therapist a couple of years ago suggest that I might have an issue going on with taking tests (similar to dyslexia) however I'd need to see a psychiatrist and see where that led. I guess what's most upsetting is my math prof (aka the class I'm doing the worst in because of the amount of tests) accused me of faking and trying to use excuses for me not studying. I study every night for about six hours for that class. The tests just get me and bring me down....

Thanks in advance.
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post #2 of 9 Old 03-21-2014, 12:03 PM
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The advice I give my students is meditation. There are many different forms of it but basically it is about following your breathing and controlling each breath. For me, I like to envision something like a small ball as it travels from outside my nose and deep into my lungs and then back out of my lungs and out of my mouth as I breath out. I don't know why that visualization helps me but it does.

Dan Harris has just recently released a book call "10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Withough Losing My Edge... He related a story as how he had a panic attack while on live tv. He uses meditation each day now to keep panic attacks from happening.

Do some research on it and find which way works best for you. You have a pretty extreme case of test anxiety and need to get help for it. I am sure that you can. Short term, talk to your teachers one on one and see if they can come up with an oral assessment for your grades instead of the traditional exams.
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post #3 of 9 Old 03-21-2014, 12:04 PM
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I haven't had bad of an experience taking tests, though I too always did pretty bad on most tests, though knew the subject, and did fine on everything else.

Is there any way you can see a different advisor? It sounds like your advisor isn't really all that keen on really helping you succeed. Maybe you can take it to a higher person, let them know whats going on. I would definitely say go and see a psychiatrist, as they have more power and weight to be able to verify that you really do have an issue, and in addition to helping you maybe deal with it better, can also give notes etc, to the advisor, or teacher, and come up with a solution that works. I can't imagine what you have to go through every time you have to take a test. Hopefully a psychiatrist can help with minimal or no drugs, and you can succeed in college.

Just another idea, what about online classes? Sometimes they have fewer tests, and maybe being able to take the test online at home as opposed to going into the school to take a test may help a little? Just throwing ideas out there. I know for me I still sucked at tests, but it was easier taking them at home on my own time, and not being in the classroom with everything quiet, and judging how I'm doing based on when other people are done. It was much easier being home, listening to music, and being in a comfortable place. Wish I could be more help.
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post #4 of 9 Old 03-21-2014, 12:19 PM Thread Starter
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Seriously any and all help is good! I actually did really well in online classes and oral exams/low key ones (mainly when a teacher had me take the same test but I orally had to talk out each problem with no guidance). Unfortunately my major doesn't allow me to take online classes at all, and yeah my current advisor is just not helping. I'm hopefully *knock on wood* switching after this meeting.

I'm liking the meditation idea, I'm going to try that one out for this upcoming exam!
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post #5 of 9 Old 03-21-2014, 01:24 PM
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Check out the resources for people with disabilities on campus. I'm a test proctor for the disability resource center at the university I go to, and they have some great ways to help. For instance, you can take the test in a quiet room alone with extra time, or have the entire test read aloud to you. After you see the psychologist see what kind of aid the university will offer you.
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post #6 of 9 Old 03-21-2014, 03:16 PM
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Yoga is also very beneficial as it focuses on breathing.
It sounds awful to be going through this but you have my and every one else on hf's support
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post #7 of 9 Old 03-21-2014, 03:33 PM
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Test taking is an art form. A lot of people have your same difficulty and there are usually short (5 days or so) classes on taking exams if you look around - maybe even one at a community college in your area.

There is just as much horse sense as ever, but the horses have most of it.
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post #8 of 9 Old 03-21-2014, 03:42 PM
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If you take online tests, or practice the questions on a CD that came with the book, or just do the paper/pencil Q&A section of a chapter, do you still have the same anxiety? Sounds to me like you are just not feeling adequately prepared for the tests in class. right? Then you need to do more test-taking exercises prior to the actual exam so that you know you can handle it. I think the key to doing well on the exam is to go in there with the notion that you know most of the material that's going to be on that test, and feel pretty secure about your ability to guess the rest. ;-D There are books on test-taking strategies. Multiple-choice questions frequently have two distractors, and two probably answers, and then there's something about one or the other of those that enables you to rule it out as the best choice. That leaves one best answer. etc. Look up test-taking strategies.
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post #9 of 9 Old 03-22-2014, 10:25 AM
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I don't know if I can help you that much, becuase I have never experienced anything like what you are going through ( my mum describes me as the ice queen, when it comes to tests competitions or stressful situations ).

There are plenty of herbal "calmers" which I have seen used with much success like "Kalms" and "Rescue Remedy". I suppose for me if I get nervous I put things to scale. I would just remind myself, that they are just questions on paper,which I answer. A test is just a page full of ink scribbles, which deciphering is an achievment in itself ( sure we spend a year or two in school just learning to decipher the ink scribbles as letter or numbers).

You could also look at it as homework done in class, because for me I usually do my homework with my book closed and in silence.

It really is silly that our during school every thing revolves around scribbles on a page.

Another thing you could do focusing on breathing is when ever you begin to feel overwhelmed just stop. If you are at home take a bath, or go ride a horse or whatever you find relaxing and only come back to it when you are in a fit state. Mabey try whenever you are relaxed to think of a colour, and repeat this as often as you can so that by the time you sit down for an exam all you need to do is think of that colour and you become relaxed.

I don't know if any of that would help at all because as I said I have not had much of an experience with nerves but that is what comes off the top of my head, and I really wish you all the best because I can only imagine how frustrating this must be for you.

Good Luck
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