Program teaches students to manage test anxiety during finals

By Autumn Douglas, @adouglas_DE

‘Tis the season of finals and test anxiety.

Test anxiety is a type of performance anxiety that may be caused by the lack of preparation for a test, fear of failing or a poor test-taking history, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

It affects people physically, emotionally and cognitively, the association said. Headaches, excessive sweating, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, feelings of fear or helplessness and difficulty concentrating are just some of the common symptoms.


“I have never done well on a final,” said Hannah Colbrook, a freshman studying pre-mechanical engineering. No matter how well she does on homework and other assignments, she said she forgets information once a test is in front of her. 

The Counseling and Psychological Services program at the university gives students a place to go when they need a counselor for this problem or any other they may face, whether it be depression, general anxiety or a crisis.

The Counselor in Residence program is an extension of Counseling and Psychological Services that gives students access to counselors in university housing without having to go to the Student Health Center. There are two licensed clinical professional counselors in residence, Stephanie Duckworth and Magnolia Hood, that will travel to students.

With finals approaching, students may feel stressed and overwhelmed. The program will host a seminar at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Lentz Hall to provide students with tips for coping with the stress of finals.

“Our bodies are created to handle stress in a way that helps us survive,” Duckworth said, “When you’re in survival mode, you’re not using the part of your brain you really need to take a test.”

Duckworth will talk about causes of test anxiety and how to overcome it with relaxation techniques and study skills.

Some students said being prepared and memorizing material doesn’t help them during the test, whereas some said being well-prepared decreases their test anxiety.


“I used to get nervous, because I was ill-prepared. Now I study, so I don’t get as nervous,” said Abdallah Abu-Sara, a sophomore studying biological sciences. He said he listens to classical music while he studies to help himself focus.

Listening to music is one of many ways to deal with test anxiety. Meditation, eating healthy and getting enough sleep are other simple ways to manage it, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

Justin Loescher, a junior studying psychology, said he listens to heavy metal music or plays basketball to relieve some of the stress of finals. 

Abu-Sara and Loescher both said they have learned to cope with test anxiety well enough that it doesn’t negatively affect them as much as it used to. 

In addition to Counseling and Psychological Services, Student Health Services also offers the Healthy Saluki Dawg Lounge to students in need of relaxation. The lounge has a massage chair, soft music and guided imagery and meditations for students to enjoy without an appointment.

Autumn Douglas can be reached at [email protected] or 536-3325.