So, let’s face it. School already sucks to begin with. Throw standardized testing into the mix, and you know what you have? A whole bundle of “Aw Heck Naw!” For some people, it’s even more than just the drama and testing. It’s the test anxiety. Test anxiety is actually a form of performance anxiety which is the fear of being required to perform or accomplish something in front of an audience, in your mind or otherwise.
I like school to an extent. I like to learn new things and meet people, but no one likes the favored treatment or homework. But what everyone hates worse than homework is the testing. If you are anything like me, you have some major test anxiety that is impossible to handle. You could walk into that class with some serious confidence because you studied hard and as you get handed your test, your mind goes completely black!!! Why? “Why does this happen to me?” you think to yourself.
Well, all anxiety is a reaction to anticipating something stressful. Like other anxiety reactions, test anxiety affects the body and the mind. When you're under stress, your body releases the hormone adrenaline, which prepares it for danger (you may hear this referred to as the "fight or flight" reaction). That's what causes the physical symptoms, such as sweating, a pounding heart, and rapid breathing. These sensations might be mild or intense, depending on your specific body.
So, how do we deal with this problem? Is there a way to overcome this or am I just stuck suffering?
It can help to learn ways to calm yourself down and get centered when you're tense or anxious. For some people, this might mean learning a simple breathing exercise. Practicing breathing exercises regularly (when you're not stressed out of course) helps your body see these exercises as a signal to relax. Also, if you mark the date on a calendar and schedule practice and study times, it might help calm your nerves since you know when the test will be. Plan out your study sessions so you don't get distracted or focused on other tasks. The more planned out you are, the easier it is to focus.
Here in Texas, we have what’s called the STAAR test; the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness. They are a series of state-mandatory standardized tests that are used in public schools to assess a student’s achievements and knowledge learned in that grade level. Which should seem necessary, right? Wrong! During every grade level, especially in high school, there are multiple tests you actually have to pass in order to graduate from that grade. There are the EOC’s, end of course exams, as well as all of the previous tests during the set of 6 6-week periods. If you don’t pass those tests, you tend to have to retake them over and over again until you do pass. The curriculum you learn in those classes is meant to help you pass the tests, not succeed in life which is a very big problem.
Most schools are required to follow a basic curriculum where they are required to teach only what is on the state tests. You do not learn what you will need in the future. Here recently they have cut back on quite a few necessary classes only to boost the classes required to know what is on those tests.
In order to prepare us for our future, we need not only those simple skills: reading, simple mathematics, writing, science; but also things such as home economics and life skills. In order to get those classes, I have enlisted the help of a homeschooling site as well as my full public school schedule. We shouldn’t have to go through a second set of schooling just to learn the basic things in life. To make matters even more difficult, I am teaching myself that second set of schooling.
So, how can we, as students and young adults, change this? Well, there isn’t much we can do. At least, that’s what they tell us. No! We can stand up. This is our future, our education! Show them that we care. Many adults don’t think we care about education, but we have to show them that it’s not true. Stand up for yourself. Start a support group or class after school. You could have someone come in every week to teach something new. You can become the student and the teacher for many kids. Do it for a grade below you. Teach them how to sew, cook, be responsible. You can take action and you can be a role model. You be the teacher of your own life. And with this, once again, I leave you with a song of passion and choices.