Test Anxiety and The Effects On Grades

Alexier Rodriguez, Journalist

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According to Child Trends, the United States has been scored with a “C” for our education system, “averaging at about 74.7 percent across the nation in 2017.” However, I’m not denying the fact that we have made a major improvement since the 1990’s because the grade point average for high school graduates was 3.10 in 2009, .33 higher than the average GPA in 1990’s.

  I strongly believe there could be much more done in improving academic achievement as well as helping students learn. In fact, grades could get better for Generation Z and other upcoming generations, but there is an obstacle that every student must face: distractions and the fear of failure from anxiety.

 Anxiety is a rising epidemic among many young people who are affected physiologically, emotionally, and physically. Some develop headaches, sweating, nausea, dizziness, anger, fear, helplessness, disappointment, etc. However, the most visible effects, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, are lack of concentration and a negative mindset that alters the function of all parts of the human nature: the body, mind, and soul.

  Though these symptoms only arise from test taking, they can be triggered even when the students prepare for the exam, but what provokes them is their lack of self confidence. Students tend to struggle in their 4 core classes: Mathematics, English, Science, and Social Studies, mandatory for every student to graduate. But the most important assessments that determine the students’ qualifications for acceptance into a college are the ACT, SAT, EOC, and general exams.

-Standardized tests bring unease on to students causing them to struggle and have a deflation in grades across America.

  Since state exams (ACT, SAT, EOC) are heavily supported by high school administrations, it causes students to be pressured to do well for college admission. However, because of the heavy recommendation for students to do their best on these exams, it will then divert students attention from other important things such as their grade point average. Lead into a decline in the student average grade for students and later on possibly lead to lower standards for students unless we even the attention span between tests and grades.

 According to FairTest.org, by schools “de-emphasizing the use of standardized tests by making admissions decisions about substantial numbers of applicants who recently graduated from U.S. high schools without using the SAT or ACT. Therefore the SAT and ACT are not designed as an indicator of student achievement, but rather as an predictor of how well students will do in college.” However, that’s not entirely true because FairTest.org, the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, also notes that the exam is designed to predict first-year college grades, but it is not too accurate to predict grades beyond the 1st year terms, graduation rates, how far the student wants to go to get a degree, or for placement or advising purposes.

 More importantly, the most striking comment was: What should college admissions officers look for instead? And Hiss says “GPA matters the most.” With that being announced, it can be inferred that the idea if high school grades are poor, then good testing skills does not become a backup to promise future success later on in college. Whereas students with good grades and moderate testing skills do so much better in college, which can in fact be proven by and explained through how the human mind works.

  The human mind is a complex network of information, so multifaceted and fluid, even when trying to find a single tool to measure all capabilities of American students is similar to a rocky road up a foggy passage. Although, even as this may be true, SATs and ACTs have some predictive value for some students. Though I will say there should be more tools of measurements to assess the success rate of achievement at college level.

  Academic achievement is based on the student’s ability to study or review for tests with ease. But for some students, test taking is a struggle even if they give their full effort. I, for example, am a student who suffers from these standards as well. Therefore I strongly believe tests have damaged student’s confidence to be successful because of constant pressure succeed. The thought of failure spreads in the minds of students heads without symptom or warning, giving birth to 3 serious mental health conditions: fear of failure, procrastination, and repetitive failure. These lead into early hints of anxiety, and if not taken care of, it may spiral out of control.

  Many people believe they are incapable of having a good lifestyle without being educated or going to college. This is similar to The Domino Effect, where the grades of tests are gathered together and given an average score for the whole class or school, but drops as grades get lower and lower.   

  For example, Senior Darcy Biermeyer, head of Journalism and Salutatorian said,“I dislike taking tests because people expect big things from me and that leads me to having performance anxiety. And if I fail, not only am I affected, but everyone else around me is too”. This is not just any student; she’s an overachiever and well-known by a variety of teachers and students.

  This nation-wide testing event is causing a massive dilemma about the standards for our future generations. Bringing me to my case, that we must take action not only as a community, but more importantly as a country to assist every student’s needs, but not of embarrassing them. We should demand that the school board change their perspective in this ongoing threat to our future generations. If we change the way tests are determined to evaluate us and our achievements. Hopefully, we may then come to see an increase in our schools grade scores, welcome more migrating children, increase funding, and open more jobs for CTE, degree jobs, non-degree employment, etc.