We all would have experienced a bit of nervousness before taking exams. And it is an entirely normal thing to happen. It helps individuals prepare better and sharpens their attention. The problem occurs when that little nervousness turns into anxiety because test anxiety has the opposite effect of slight nervousness.
In a fast-track environment like the medical field, professionals are made to prove their expertise by taking examinations. For example, the journey can be gratifying and complex if you seek the American Registry of Radioactive Technologists (ARRT) examinations to become a Radiologic Technologist. Test anxiety can be a hindrance while preparing for this examination that would have a weighty impact on the test performance.
In this article, let us cover how to manage test anxiety before practice exams in the medical field. Before diving deep into the article, let’s cover some basics first.
What Is Test Anxiety?
Test anxiety is when individuals experience physical discomfort and emotional distress, affecting their ability to perform well in tests. Various feelings characterize it, including fear of failure, worry, nervousness, dread, overarousal, and tension. Research suggests increased test anxiety can adversely affect the candidate’s emotional, social, and behavioral development.
This is common among various disciplines, and the medical field is no exception. Those who prepare for medical practice tests may go through symptoms such as a great deal of sweating, rapid heartbeat, difficulty concentrating, and even panic attacks.
Why Are Practice Sessions Important in Dealing With Test Anxiety?
Test anxiety can be managed swiftly once you know how to deal with it. Taking practice examinations is one of the best ways to do so. If you are a medical professional preparing for ARRT exams, have a radiography practice session to boost your confidence and cope with test anxiety. As you will have a glimpse of the test format, engaging in practice tests is a great way to loosen up the tension and familiarize yourself with the content.
Additionally, practice sessions are a great way to track your progress and assess how far you have come in your preparation. They also help in introspecting your strengths and weaknesses, the areas you want to work on a bit more, and keeping yourself updated on what questions you will encounter in the test.
Practical Strategies to Manage Test Anxiety
Below are some strategies to overcome test anxiety and perform better during medical tests.
Don’t Compromise on Preparation
Don’t compromise on your preparation if you want to ace your test. Start by creating a structured plan for your preparation. The two attributes that keep students focused are organizing their study materials and setting realistic goals. This, in turn, helps avoid last-minute confusion and keeps them on track.
If you are someone who thrives at group study sessions, it is highly recommended to do so. It is a support network where individuals share their knowledge and break down complex concepts.
Do Follow Some Relaxation Techniques
Integrating relaxation techniques into the study sessions can significantly help alleviate test anxiety. One of the simple relaxation techniques you can follow is taking deep, slow breaths and exhaling them slowly. This may sound simple, but it can boost your body’s natural relaxation response and promote calmness in your body and mind.
Additionally, meditation can help candidates to stay calm and focused in the present moment. It also helps prevent our minds from dwelling on anxious thoughts.
Manage Time Effectively
Effective time management is required to balance study time and free time. By creating a well-structured study schedule, candidates can effectively plan their time for preparing different topics. This will help avoid unnecessary stress from last-minute preparation.
Spending more time on areas you feel you need to work on can enhance the overall effectiveness of your study sessions. However, take enough breaks in the middle to save yourself from burnout. Taking short breaks also helps prevent mental fatigue, recharge your mind, and enable better topic retention.
Experiencing negative thoughts and self-doubt is common when facing new challenges. However, you need to find a way to manage them to mitigate test anxiety. So try acknowledging your strengths and achievements instead of worrying about your weaknesses.
Try reinforcing your capabilities with positive affirmations to create a sense of empowerment.
Make Healthy Life Choices
Following healthy life choices like doing physical activities like working out, jogging, and going out for a walk can ease up anxiety. You can also try incorporating yoga into your daily routine, which boosts your mood.
In addition to this, getting proper sleep and staying hydrated is crucial for optimum brain function and focus. Ensure you get sufficient sleep (about 7 to 8 hours each night) for increased memory consolidation and improved brain function.
Seeking support from others can be one of the best practices you can do to mitigate test anxiety. Try to make use of available resources like having a chat with mentors or study groups. If your test anxiety has worsened, you can always seek professional help. They will help you address the underlying issues and develop effective coping strategies.
Familiarize Yourself With Test Format
As mentioned before, taking practice tests can help you with familiarizing the test format. And if you are familiar with the test format, your test anxiety won’t rule you, meaning you can take the test confidently.
Understanding the time limits, general instructions, and the number of questions can significantly help candidates plan their approach accordingly.
While taking the test, it is entirely normal for you to experience a bit of nervousness. So make sure you take some time to read the questions carefully before jumping into answering them.
Research suggests that approximately 40 to 60% of candidates experience adverse effects from test anxiety. Irrespective of their discipline, there are coping mechanisms that help you better deal with test anxiety. The same applies to medical professionals preparing for ARRT examinations. They should learn how to manage test anxiety to aim for certification success. Managing test anxiety becomes easier once you identify its causes and implement practical strategies. Doing so can enhance preparation and engage in practice sessions without test anxiety.