Test anxiety affects individuals differently, with some experiencing intense symptoms like butterflies in the stomach, headaches, racing heart, sweating, and even feeling on the verge of passing out or getting sick. Even those with milder symptoms often struggle with a “blank mind” sensation where they cannot answer even basic questions. However, it’s essential to recognize that if you or someone you know faces test anxiety, you’re not alone. Almost everyone experiences some level of stress before a test such as the Board of Certification (BOC) exam, and in fact, this stress can be beneficial. It motivates us to study and prepare, pushing us to do our best.
The challenge for those with test anxiety lies in their fear of the test itself. To help overcome this fear and navigate the BOC exam process, here are some helpful tips:
Study and be prepared: While it may seem obvious, many individuals with test anxiety try to avoid thinking about the test altogether, leading them to neglect preparation. Consequently, they arrive unprepared for the BOC exam, which further diminishes their confidence and negatively impacts their performance. To break this cycle, it’s crucial to study for the BOC exam well in advance, not only enhancing your knowledge but also boosting your confidence.
Engage in mental rehearsal: Visualize success by recalling a time when you performed well on a test or imagine yourself confidently answering questions in the test environment. Similar to how athletes mentally prepare for their events, you can harness the power of mental rehearsal. Instead of dwelling on your fears and worst-case scenarios, envision your best self tackling the BOC exam with ease and assurance. Practice this exercise before bed each night.
Take deep breaths: When anxiety starts to escalate, take slow, deep breaths to help relax your body. Anxiety often leads to rapid breathing, so consciously slowing down your breaths can encourage relaxation.
Distract yourself: Avoid fixating on your BOC exam worries and sharing them with others. Instead, plan a fun activity to enjoy after the BOC exam and focus on discussing that. Diverting your attention away from your anxieties helps reduce stress buildup before entering the test environment.
Write down your worries: Identify the worst-case scenarios and develop strategies to address them. Often, we tend to catastrophize the impact of a single test on our overall academic progress. Remind yourself that life rarely hinges on one exam; you may even have multiple chances to improve. While not ideal, you can retake the BOC exam. Many successful athletic trainers took the exam more than once. By addressing your worries in advance and putting them into a realistic perspective, you can preemptively diminish stress before test day.
Tests are an inevitable part of life, but with practice and preparation, you can alleviate BOC exam stress and increase your confidence. You’ve got this!