Unnecessary pressure is put on final exam season

Why these tests aren’t as important as they’re made out to be

More stories from Erica Jones

DIY diaries
May 9, 2018

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Finals season is upon us, and many students suffer from fear of failure and text anxiety, which can negatively affect their performances on tests.

College is a time of great joy, change and exposure. Exposure to diverse perspectives, new knowledge, unbelieveable opportunities and beautiful bonds. But let’s put all of that on the backburner for now and replace it with dizzying insomnia, gut-wrenching anxiety, the lack of time to breathe and full-body tension. Finals are approaching.

As every college student likely knows, finals are the worst.

Much of the time, they’re weighted pretty heavily in comparison to the rest of the semester’s assignments, projects and tests. This is unfortunate because bombing the test could result in a lower overall grade, regardless of those high marks you earned on the aforementioned aspects of the class.

According to American Test Anxieties Association (AMTAA), 16-20 percent of students have high test anxiety. This can result in students earning lower test scores than their peers, typically about half a letter grade, according to the AMTAA website.

Test anxiety typically ties back to fear of failure, which many students suffer from. It can be crippling in an academic setting. It can cause students to devote unnecessary and unhealthy amounts of time to subjects because they can’t stop until they understand them fully.

As a self-proclaimed overachiever, I do everything in my power to do my absolute best at all times. That’s what my parents have asked of me my entire life: Just do your best.

Nobody expects more from me than me. Not only to I feel the need to try my best, I also have this nagging subconscious thought that I have to be the best. That thought — it ruins lives.

I find myself in a funk nearly every time I get a grade less than what I expect of myself. As you can imagine, this feeling looms behind me near finals time like a jungle cat waiting to pounce on its unsuspecting prey. I’m sure it does this for countless others.

Mental Healthy states respondents to the ChildLine National Exam Stress survey admitting to skipping meals, losing sleep and consuming alcoholic beverages in response to test time. This is worrying information.

If students are not eating and sleeping but drinking alcohol, they are going to be much less likely to be able to focus on the task in front of them, which further increases the risk of the failure they fear. It’s a vicious cycle.

It seems like failure is not an option. It is a terrible feeling. Contrary to popular belief, however, failure is always an option, and the terrible feeling is only temporary. They key is to learn and grow from it.

So you dropped the ball on that math exam? Now you know you may need a little more help in the subject area, and the next time you take one of these classes, you can be proactive and find a tutor or a study group early in the semester to help you stay on track.

One miniscule failure doesn’t have to change a person’s entire life. A single bad test grade is a grain of sand on a beach full of defining moments. While it may feel like overwhelming at the time, it’s something that won’t matter years from now. Odds are, it won’t even matter months from now.

As finals week approaches, I’ll pass on my parents’ timeless advice. Just do your best. Trust me, it is more than enough. While you’re at it, take a deep breath and relax your shoulders. They don’t need to carry the weight of the world.