How it feels to be terrified of tests

In high school, I did a humorous interpretation called “This is a Test.” It was a piece about a student struggling through a nightmare exam. The entire piece required very little acting, because I am overly familiar with testing anxiety. I hate timed tests.

My reading comprehension is lacking when all I hear is a loud clock clicking in my brain. When I take a test, first I feel momentarily confident. Next, I feel mild anxiety, which I unsuccessfully try to ignore. Finally, I just feel irrational anger.

In a quiet room, I have to plug my ears to understand what I am reading. In tests like the LSAT, I have to literally use my fingers to plug my ears because they don’t allow ear plugs. I don’t know why this gives me a relief from my anxiety, but it does, and hey whatever helps me get through it right?

Much like someone running from danger, my senses are heightened when I am sitting in a testing room. My heart races and I feel ready for fight or maybe just ready to run away from the building. It may seem like heightened senses would be an advantage in a testing environment, and maybe the increased heart rate would help me increase my focus, but really it just means I hear everyone’s breathing much more clearly. Every sniffle, tapping pen, cough, sneeze, swallow or deep breath echo in my brain snatching my attention away from the task. One small sound is equal to some screaming in my ear, and then I want to punch whoever made the sound.

Do you know how many bodily fluids are heard in a testing room? Enough to make me angry at every single person sitting near me. They did nothing wrong, they were simply present, and that is why the anger I feel toward them is very irrational.

I have sat in counselor offices trying to get to the root cause of my fear of testing and the anger I feel, but so far I have not had any success. Sometimes I wonder why tests are all the rage, especially multiple choice tests. When facing tough life decisions, I have never been handed a set of multiple choice answers.

I enjoy projects and even essay tests are pleasant, but multiple choice paralyzes me severely. Maybe I will figure out my problem one day, or maybe I will just stop taking multiple choice tests.

I am writing this right after taking a multiple choice test for my master’s degree. Luckily, it is online and I can take it at home, but it is still timed, and the professor doesn’t give us any material to prepare.

I feel angry because I can complete all the reading assignments for the course, and it will in no way actually prepare me for the quiz, which is really annoying.

I guess everyone has to complete unpleasant tasks to reach a goal. I just happen to hate tests, and I don’t think that will change until they allow me to sit in a silent room by myself.