State that students experiencing exam anxiety may experience physical symptoms such as palpitations, sweating, nausea, vomiting, changes in sleep and appetite, as well as emotional symptoms such as tension, nervousness, pessimism, and uncertainty. Dr. Zeynep Hamamcı said:
“Candidates may experience mental symptoms such as difficulty concentrating on studies and exams, remembering what has been learned and forgetfulness. Thoughts like ‘I can’t pass’, ‘I can’t train’, ‘I don’t understand’ from students preparing for the exam can have a negative impact on the candidate. Other negative thoughts that are common among students preparing for the exam; ‘I have to pass the exam or I can’t look at anyone’, ‘If I don’t pass the exam, I fail’, ‘I have to win a good place in the exam’, ‘If I don’t get a good place , I am not considered successful’. These negative thoughts that need to be changed can also cause students to exhibit behaviors such as being unable to focus, stopping or procrastinating, failing to take the exam and quitting midway.”
A RELAXATION AND BREATHING METHOD TO MANAGE ANXIETY
According to Prof. Dr. Zeynep Hamamcı said, “Relaxation is the slow contraction and relaxation of the muscles in different parts of the body, respectively, accompanied by relaxing music. During relaxation, thoughts become calm and peaceful. Our bodily reactions change, our heart rate slows down and our muscle tone decreases. The reduction of body tension and anxious thoughts creates calm and positive emotions. Breathing exercises also play an important role in managing exam anxiety. Students can practice the breathing technique by holding their breath quietly and slowly for a while, twice as long as it takes them. If students can learn to reduce and manage their physical and emotional responses to stress or anxiety through relaxation and appropriate breathing practices, they can improve their exam performance even further.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CANDIDATES AT RISK DURING THE EXAM
Before or during the exam, students should try to take a few deep breaths and relax their bodies when they feel nervous or anxious. Prof. Dr. Zeynep Hamamcı gave the following advice to candidates whose anxiety increased during the exam:
“For a few minutes, they can close their eyes and imagine a memory that makes them happy or that they won the university or department they want to attend. They can try to calm themselves down by saying some positive phrases, such as “I worked hard” or “I did my best,” which are comforting and empowering. It can also reduce the anxiety students may experience during the exam if they start solving questions from the part they do best during the exam, don’t spend too much time on the questions they can’t make, and don’t get stuck in a question . If students have time to mark next to the question they are having difficulty with, they can return to the marked questions after reading through the entire booklet. Trying to find the answers to the questions of the exam they took after the first exam can increase their anxiety and prevent them from focusing on the exam because there is an exam the next day. Instead, he should try to rest after the first exam.”
FAMILIES SHOULD NOT HAVE HIGH EXPECTATIONS TO INCREASE FEAR
Saying that during this time when there is little time left before the exam, it will be extremely helpful for parents to demonstrate supportive attitudes and behaviors to help their children reduce their anxiety and help them relax. Dr. Zeynep Hamamcı said: “Parents should develop realistic expectations that match the child’s performance and not compare them to others, rather than having high expectations and putting pressure on them. In addition, parents should tell their children that they can try the exam again, rather than showing it as a one-time test that must be won, and that there may be other alternatives in their future plans. It should be remembered that when the anxiety of the parents decreases, it will positively affect the children and their anxiety will also decrease.