Story by Madi Coleman, Olivia Schroeder, and Renee Davis
Over the past 10 years, anxiety among teens has increased by 17 percent, according to Child Mind Institute. In addition to that, a Bagpiper survey showed that more than 800 students at FC suffer from anxiety and say that standardized testing is one of the main causes.
The Bagpiper survey also shows that most high school students have not yet found a way to handle the anxiety they get from testing. They just get stressed out, and that causes a lack of sleep, which will just raise their anxiety levels even more.
“If it is the night before a big test and I’m stressed out, like I don’t know what I need to study or what I need to do, then I won’t get as much sleep because I’ll be up late worrying about it,” said freshman Hannah Watson. Students are also under pressure to get things done on time and to get them done right, which just adds to the anxiety.
The lack of sleep causes more anxiety and makes students less focused in school because they are trying to stay awake. It also works the other way around, though; anxiety is not only the result of no sleep but it can also cause a lack of sleep.
Some of this anxiety may be due to expectations for students, according to child therapist Dr. Michelle Page. “School is simply too stressful. Educators, parents, and society place too many expectations on children who are not emotionally ready to meet the demands of an adult world,” she said.
Watson also said, “Sometimes I have to miss school because my anxiety is so bad.” This is also a very common problem among teens. Instead of coming to school and falling asleep in class, students are just not coming because their anxiety is so bad or because they are nervous about taking a test.
“The worst part is being scared you are going to fail all together. It’s hard to explain, because you work so hard and then you feel like your going to fail. Then you overthink everything, what if I don’t know what I’m doing? What if I look like a fool when my teacher grades this?” said Lanesville High School sophomore Anna Smith.
So many students struggle with test anxiety and they just do not know how to deal with it. But, there are solutions.
“Tackling time management is the big problem. Laying out a timeline can help by showing you when you are going to study or what to prepare for the test. Research that shows if you take notes home every night and look over them for 10 minutes, you are going to remember more of the information. We encourage students to take the notes home that day and look over them,” said counselor Emily Sowder.
“If you can calm yourself down the night before or during the test you will perform better. But also knowing that it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get the score that you want,” said counselor Mark Clark.
Page also said it is important for stressed teens to reach out to trusted adults.
“Get help. Have someone to talk to. Communicate to your caregivers. Seek therapy and or medicine if necessary. Nobody can handle it alone,” she said.