Finals: A trial for test anxiety sufferers

There is a sea of faces at Florida A&M University. But with finals week looming, some members of the sea will feel the wrath of exams more than others.

All tests, especially those during finals week, are harder to bear for students with test anxiety.

Test anxiety affects a person’s power to take a test, even if that person is very familiar with the test subject.

Instead of focusing on the test, the person taking the exam worries about the negative outcomes of failing.

People with test anxiety can have sweaty palms and increased heart rates according to Wayne Brady, a counselor and adviser at the FAMU Learning Development Educational Center.

“Sometimes they feel like they’re going to hyperventilate. Sometimes they get sick to the stomach,” Brady said.

In order to overcome test anxiety, one must first be diagnosed as having the problem.

“Many students come here with a perceived learning disability,” Brady said. “We do what we call a screening. If the screening indicates there could be a disability, we’ll perform a psychological educational evaluation.”

The Self Report Test is available at the LDEC, located at 667 Ardelia Court.

The Self Report Test consists of 20 questions and results in one of three levels of test anxiety.

If a person’s total score is in the 50th percentile or below, that person has a low amount of anxiety and generally has nothing to worry about.

Moderate anxiety ranges from the 51st to the 74th percentile, and severe anxiety exceeds the 74th percentile.

Brady said no matter what the results are, people generally feel relieved after being tested because they have an answer.

If a student is diagnosed with test anxiety, he or she can visit FAMU’s Sunshine Manor for counseling.

Associate professor James Simmons is one of the counselors who help students deal with test anxiety.

“The first thing I do is to get [the students] thinking positive,” Simmons said. “Attitude is the most important factor in anything you do. They keep thinking about not passing. Some of them say they go blank.”

As a part of his counseling, Simmons gives his patients a handout that lists some preparation, relaxation and test-taking techniques such as sitting alone for 15 minutes and thoroughly knowing the material.

Although Simmons said test anxiety is prevalent among students, about only one out of every 100 patients he counsels comes because of test anxiety.

There may not be many people with test anxiety getting counseled, but that does not mean other students do not have it.

“There are so many people who actually need this service but won’t do anything about it,” Simmons said. “[but they] don’t want to be labeled.”

Contact Brandon D. Oliver at famuanlifestyles