Examination Anxiety and High Academic Achievement

Examination Anxiety and High Performance

Our goal is that every student should be able to achieve to the highest level of their ability. It is often the brightest students that aim for a high level of achievement that can improve performance through addressing examination or test anxiety, perfectionism or procrastination.

What Is Examination Anxiety?

Examination or test anxiety is a form of performance anxiety. It is a psychological condition that causes individuals to experience extreme distress and anxiety in testing situations. This can have a negative impact on learning and exam performance.

Exam anxiety occurs in high pressure academic situations where good performance counts. When anxiety becomes excessive in these situations the affected individual is prevented from performing at their best. Although such individuals possess the skills and knowledge to do well, their anxiety may lower their academic performance.

Stress or anxiety before an exam is extremely common as is general anxiety about academic achievement. Being a little nervous can help a student perform to their best potential, however excessive stress can hinder exam performance. While exam anxiety can be very unpleasant and stressful, it is treatable.

General academic anxiety can manifest as Procrastination about handing in assignments and making decisions or as Perfectionism.

We understand test anxiety and are here to help manage symptoms so that students can perform to their maximum potential in assignments, tests and examinations.

What Causes Examination Anxiety and Poor Academic Performance?

The reason can be simple anxiety or can be related to the following.

• Disorders such as depression, panic disorder, social anxiety, problems of low self-esteem can present initially as academic anxiety. Occasionally, family background can also impact on academic performance. 
• Parents sometimes need advice about how to help their children achieve their maximum academic achievement. It is important to assess the ability and potential of students to make sure that academic expectations are realistic and achievable. 
• Difficulties with school friendship groups and pressure to perform in school sportscan adversely affect the ability to focus and concentrate on academic achievement. 
• Making the correct choice of subjects can be quite stressful for those students who haven’t yet formulated a career plan or who may not know where they are heading in life. 
• Unrealistic expectations and high standards can create anxiety, and it is often the better performing students who worry most about their academic performance, having set themselves very high academic goals.

Symptoms of Examination Anxiety

Symptoms of exam anxiety can be physical, behavioural, cognitive, and emotional.

Physical symptoms of exam anxiety include;

• headaches
• diarrhea
• rapid breathing
• light-headedness
• sweating• shaking
• rapid heartbeat
• nausea
• In severe cases students can experience panic attacks, before or during exams

Cognitive and behavioural symptoms of exam anxiety include:

• fidgeting 
• negative self-talk
• “blanking out” during a test• difficulty concentrating
• in extreme cases, substance abuse may occur.

Emotional symptoms of exam anxiety include:

• depression
• low self-esteem
• anger
• feelings of hopelessness

Our Examination Anxiety Psychologist

Dr Peter Gibbon 

Dr Gibbon possesses considerable clinical experience with children aged 12 and over, adolescents and young adults. He is a former university lecturer in psychology and has researched anxiety and numerous other mental health conditions. He can assist with education related problems such as exam anxiety, academic stress, general motivation and career guidance. 

Dr Gibbon possesses extensive clinical experience in working with young people, having previously worked for Headspace. He is warm and approachable and young people find it easy to build a rapport with him. 

Peter offers after hours appointments that do not interfere with school hours. He can help with examination anxiety in high school age children and university students.