A B C or D? I look down at the test and I freeze. I feel as if my mind’s going in 15 million directions as I look up and I hear the sound the clock: tick-tock! Time is running out. My body begins to sweat and my mind begins to shiver as I stare at the test thinking I have no mercy.
That’s the life of a college student with testing anxiety which has been a part of my life from the time I was in third grade. I believe that’s when my journey with testing anxiety began.
I was always an overachiever from a very age and I was always a child that loved school. I made it a point to make sure I received A’s and B’s (or sometimes a ”C” if it was in math) and I also made sure that I was on the honor roll and studied hard for all my tests.
Due to my Cerebral Palsy, I was placed in special education classes from kindergarten to about the 2nd grade. That’s when my special education teacher Mrs. A saw that I was ready for mainstream classes.
After that, an IEP meeting was held, which is an individual education plan for students with special needs that attend mainstream school. My parents and they decided it would be best for me to go into regular classes since I was able to handle most of the workload, just like any other student. I simply had to receive my work in moderation. For example, if the class had an assignment where they had to answer 25 questions, I would only have to answer 10 of them.
Writing The F.C.A.T.
I was fitting in well and had a great year overall but I was starting to become anxious about the upcoming F.C.A.T., which stands for Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.
The F.C.A.T was mandatory for students that were in mainstream classes and throughout the year I had prepared for it as much as I could. I would take many practice tests to see how well I was doing and worked hard on my math and reading as well. I would also do the worksheets my teacher sent home so overall I was as ready as I could be.
When it came to the day of testing I was nervous and I didn’t have the right testing accommodations. It got a bit overwhelming for me and I wound up doing poorly on the F.C.A.T. which resulted in me being held back a year. So despite my good grades and being successful in mainstream classes, I still had to repeat a whole year which I felt was completely unfair. This lowered my self-esteem and made me think twice whether I was going to be able to be successful in school.
After that, whenever my teachers would mention a test I would freeze and sometimes even cry because I was in fear of constant failing. Finally, in 10th grade, I received the official diagnosis of ”Testing Anxiety “. I have dealt with the struggle since then, but even now (while in college) I think back to the time when I was the little 3rd grader who loved reading Flat Stanley and Captain Underpants and it makes me sad.
Now I’m an online college student but it’s not easy. At times I feel like my mind is glitched, especially when I have a panic attack and think back to that time in the 3rd grade. I just take a deep breath and remember to take my time. What I find helpful now when I’m tested is to put on some headphones and jam out to Blake Shelton music. It makes me forget about why I’m having a panic attack and it makes taking the test easier.
I hope that my experience helps others who suffer this way.