It Is Okay To Be Anxious But Not Worried
Back in Chicago, when I was a teaching assistant in General Chemistry, the professor used the word "party" whenever referring to an exam inside the classroom. With every exam, the professor also added humorous cartoons on the first page. The purpose is to somehow relieve test anxiety which significantly impairs a student's academic performance. Taking an exam seriously and preparing for it is good. However, worrying about an exam needlessly with particular emphasis on scores as measures of success or failure is harmful. This is test anxiety. With education reforms, tests serve as measures of learning outcomes. Test scores are sought to gauge whether a given educational reform is working or not. With higher stakes, greater attention is given to scores in these tests. When tests are used not just to assess a student's learning, but also the future of an educational program, the pressure becomes higher. Grades, which are partly, if not dominantly determined by scores in these exams, can affect a student's future. Admissions to special programs in high schools, admission to an elite university, offer of employment from a good firm can depend on grades. Thus, society places a lot of premium on these tests. Being concerned with exams is healthy. These are necessary tools for assessment. However, when a student becomes more afraid of failure instead of seeing the exam as a challenge, a possibility to shine, then a debilitating test anxiety comes into play.