“Did I study the right topics for this exam?”
“If I don’t get a good mark, will I ruin my opportunities for university and career success?”
“Am I suited to university?”
Sound familiar? You are not alone!
Educational psychologist Dr Valerie Sotardi from the College of Education, Health and Human Development and Associate Professor Erik Brogt from UC’s Learning Evaluation and Academic Development team have created a free online resource to help students understand assessment anxiety.
They say these types of stress-related thoughts are common among students – especially first year students.
“Any time we challenge ourselves, stress will be a natural part of learning. Any time we value our performance, stress will be a natural part of assessment. It’s crucial for students to remember that these are typical experiences, and nothing to be ashamed of,” Dr Sotardi said in a recent interview.
In moderation, these kinds of questions can be good. Taking the time to reflect on our own preparation, progress, and future outcomes can help us to evaluate and modify our behaviours to achieve success. However, if we are unable to cope effectively with these thoughts, then anxiety can take control.
Try the tips below to help keep the stress and anxiety in check.
- Set daily achievable goals and stick to them. For example – read chapter 1 and take notes, use flash cards to review material etc.
- Aim high, be realistic and focus on mastering the material – this is something you have more control over than a score or grade.
- Multitasking does not help you to learn! Don’t try to study while watching TV or chatting with friends. People generally are really poor multitaskers and perform poorly on these tasks while also being more stressed.
- Use the student support on campus. All institutions have people on staff whose job it is to help you – this includes people such as librarians, student support staff, and learning skills staff. For more information see canterbury.ac.nz/support/
- If you are worried about your performance, talk with your friends and classmates about what they’re concerned about and how they’re handling it.
Want to know more? Read Under pressure: Understanding assessment anxiety – Resource for students