The more I work as a test prep performance coach the more I see how fear not only derails test takers, but immobilizes them. It is the single biggest cause of poor test performance.
What are they afraid of? (And if you’re a fearful test taker and are reading this: what are you afraid of?) Doing poorly? Failing? Not living up to standards? All kinds of consequences like not getting into the college of you choice, not qualifying for a scholarship, making someone (a teacher, parents, our yourself) disappointed?
While there may certainly be consequences of a less-than-standard test performance, being afraid not only makes the entire experience of studying for the test and taking it very tense and disturbing, it actually does not help.
Although there may be a motivating factor in having some fear (“Man, I’ve got to start studying!”), being fearful has no positive effect. Why? Because fear is a separating, disconnecting force. When you are in fear you are pulling away. But on a test you have to be present. If you pull away you won’t be able to think rationally, and you won’t be able to answer questions correctly.
Fear also is all-encompassing. It takes over body, mind and spirit. The body because tense and hyped up, the mind is filled with negativity, and the spirit is distracted. Not a pretty picture for a test taker.
What should you do if you find yourself fearful about an upcoming test, or if you become afraid during a test.
First, remember this : worry never produce anything except more worry.
Next: use the tools: breathe, get yourself grounded; see your highest, best, brightest self, giving you a positive and accurate message. Tackle what you have to do with small manageable steps. These are some of the tools in the book. All of them work. You have to work them. You don’t have to use all of them. Play with them. Try them out. See which one suits you better. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different tools.
Fear separates you from your possibility. Don’t get swept up in it. You are not the fear. If it comes, acknowledge it and takes steps in a positive, nourishing direction. You can do it. And don’t let your fear tell you you can’t!