I would be lying if I said I never got test anxiety.

You know, the feeling where it’s 30 mins before the test and you’re low-key worried that the moment you walk into that classroom that the HOURS AND DAYS spent studying will disappear and you’ll stare at ExamSoft like that new emoji that rolls its eyes.

I’d also be lying if I said that mid-tests, I’d never thrown up my hands in a quizzical and WTF fashion, furrowed my brows, because EXCUSE ME, HOW DARE THEY ASK THAT?

And I would definitely be lying if I said that I never had mini-panic attacks post-tests that left me restless at nights and for the following days because I didn’t put the same answers as my peers and surely, surely, failed the test because everyone in my class is way smarter than me.

I just want to let you know, you’re NOT alone. 

The goal of this post is to not only encourage you as a reader, but also myself, to not be anxious…which is definitely easier said than done. I never really struggled with test anxiety in college, so this was a new feeling to me. I always felt inadequate, unprepared, and constantly wrong. Needless to say, this put a dent in my self-confidence 😦 But through my 17 months of PA School and struggling with my insecurity, here’s what I’ve learned and continually relearned.

  • I know myself best. I see my fallibilities as a human, the sins in my heart, and my imperfections. The world outside may see me as a cute PA student wearing her heather-gray columbia fleece jacket using a cute Mac Pro drinking her Starbucks coffee while studying medicine. Sounds Instagram perfect and #goals right? What I really feel like is a sleep-deprived crazed woman who has  Day 3 hair and is CHUGGING that coffee to stay awake. A lot of the times, it feels like it’s a battle of Alex vs. PA School. I’m the one taking the test, I’m the one that’s studying, I’m the one that has to fight day-day, test-test to make it through the program. It becomes a lot of me, me, me. And when I see how vulnerable and broken I am, and I’m fighting this monster of PA School, it gets disheartening because I’m going to lose if I do this by myself.
    • And this is where the anxiety starts. This is where I see how I CAN’T do it alone. This is where I see a losing battle.
    • I get anxious when I rely and trust myself more than I trust God. The beauty of knowing Christ is that the Holy Spirit is in you. A girl once told me that we hear about the Father and Son a lot, but we commonly forget that the Holy Spirit is with us in our hearts. Let’s think about that and let it sink for a second. That means whenever you’re alone and scared, the Holy Spirit is in your heart. How cool is that? It means that when you’re staring at that screen and you’re playing a game to help decide whether you should choose A/B/C/D/E, you’re not alone. Isn’t that reassuring?
    • So don’t rely on don’t have to. Rely on Christ. 
  • I try to spend my day in continual prayer when it comes to test time. It helps me stay focus and place my trust in God and not myself or whatever grade I may or may not make on a test. It’s a constant reminder and a humbling experience that I can’t do this alone and I’m not meant to.
    • Here’s some scripture I often find myself relying on when it comes down to the big day.
      • Psalm 17:8, Phillipians 4:13, Matthew 6:25-34, 1 Corinthians 9:26, Jeremiah 29:11 
  • I also do some deep, slow breathing. In through my nostrils, and out through the nostrils. A doctor once told me I take some baby breaths that wasn’t doing my body any services so it’s always been a weird thing in the back of my mind lol.
  • Surround yourself with non-anxious people. Anxiety breeds anxiety. Find those super chill people in your class and hang out with them to keep you level headed
    • Ignore the gunners. I don’t think I need to say anymore other than the gunners make me feel bad about myself. Ew.
  • Find accountability friends. Make it a point to be transparent with them and tell them that you struggle with anxiety. That way, when you’re having a mini-panic attack, they’ll be there to bring you back down to earth and tell you that they love you and everything is going to be okay.
  • Lastly, DON’T COMPARE. We all put an answer down for a reason on that test, whether it’s a SWAG (Scientific wild ass guess), or you truly believe that your answer is correct. Ultimately, don’t freak out and don’t compare because until you see that test result saying you failed or didn’t do as well as you would like, it’s NOT over. Don’t lose faith. You’re here for a reason, you’re taking a test for a reason. Trust that being in grad school is bigger than either of us.

Life is hard enough by itself, without the stressors individuals may have. But you’re not alone. Just like medicine, life is a team sport. Ask for help, ask for support. You’re not alone.


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