University of California: Freshman Essay - Prompt #5 (2016)
Prompt: Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?
During my first year of high school, I faced an enormous challenge: test anxiety. Prior to high school, I had always felt nervous about exams of any kind. However, in high school, the stakes became higher and test scores had a bigger impact. This was a very frustrating challenge because I was always a very strong student with high grades. I was a perfectionist on most assignments. However, when it came time for the test, I choked and felt paralyzed, like I couldn't think properly. I absolutely had to find a solution to this problem. My future depended on it. My test anxiety is the most significant challenge I have faced and overcome.
My first step towards reducing my test anxiety was to educate myself about its causes. I learned that test anxiety is common, affecting children and adults alike. I learned that it often has nothing to do with a person's academic ability. Rather, test anxiety is mostly psychological. Through books and tutorials, I learned some of the basic remedies for test anxiety. It is generally agreed that the keys to test success are preparation, organization and practice. I studied preparation techniques including relaxation, breathing exercises and proper nutrition. I also studied organization practices such as using note cards and keeping folders for each test on my horizon. Further, I practiced the tests as much as I could by reviewing quizzes and unit tests.
Once I learned these simple procedures, my test anxiety was alleviated. I learned that my test anxiety will never completely disappear, but I learned tools I can apply towards a better testing experience. Now, I have an action oriented? attitude towards tests. Instead of feeling paralyzed and stuck when I think about an upcoming test, I feel motivated to take action. Facing any future test, I remember what I learned about preparation, organization and practice, and it's go time. I even learned that these three tools could improve my life in other ways, such as attention to my basic health habits. Overcoming my test anxiety has made me a stronger, more resourceful person.