Why test-taking fear?
Updated: May 17
The sweaty palms…the flip-flopping stomach… the brain-fog… reading questions repeatedly. I wonder how many of you can identify with test taking anxiety. Even years after being in school, some of us still have nightmares about taking tests in school.
But what drives this intense fearful reaction about test taking? Some would say it is due to a lack of preparation. Others would say that it is an innate “fight-or-flight” instinct built into our DNA. A few might conclude that it is an irrational emotional fear inherited from life experiences. For whatever the presumed reasons, those who struggle with dyslexia, ADD, and dyscalculia, experience this fear exponentially.
Ron Davis states that the underlying reason is TIME or the lack of it, rather than the amount of preparation.
For instance, many dyslexics struggle in speed and/or comprehension in reading. They instinctively feel that they must “try harder.” While working hard isn’t bad in and of itself, it can be the enemy of the dyslexic in the area of reading and in particular, in test-taking.
Ron explains that a natural reaction is to “hurry” while taking the test. The problem is that “hurry” slows the internal clock. The more the test-taker hurries, the more it seems that clock on the wall is moving faster. So this strategy ends up leaving the test-taker with even less time. Worse, there can be a “snowball” effect of habitual “hurry” behavior. The dyslexic responds to test-taking with this counter-productive strategy simply because that is how they have always reacted.
Davis programs provide simple, internal tools for mental self-regulation that can break this cycle. With self-calming tools like release, orientation, and dial-setting, the person is able to use the actual, real-world time allotted for the test, and fare more effectively.
Of course, being prepared for the test is still important. Here are some other helpful tips for those who grapple with test anxiety:
· “Know how you learn best
· Outline what you think will be on the test
· Organize the material into sections
· Try to get a good night’s sleep and avoid last-minute cramming the night before.
· Eat a good meal
· Look through the entire test first and answer the easiest questions first.”1
1 Test-Taking Strategies, Dyslexia Help Success Starts Here, Ben Worthington, Univ. of Michigan, http://dyslexiahelp.umich.edu/dyslexics/living-with-dyslexia/school/test-taking-strategies
Certified Davis Dyslexia Facilitator
Fresh Start Learning of Puget Sound