As students experience growing anxiety with each passing year of their academic journey, one of the most common contributors is high-stakes tests.
Society has created a picture that portrays academic perfection as seemingly the only way to success, with a heightened focus on looming college applications during junior year. Major exams like AP, IB, ACT and SAT have created a large aura of testing anxiety among students preparing for college or striving to live up to high family expectations.
Students attending Oceanside High School are approaching this daunting and stress-provoking time as the academic year slowly comes to a close. Around the first week of May, AP testing began around the country. And for Oceanside students, this marks the end of a long year of hard work.
On the days of scheduled exams, students make their way to School No. 6 to complete their exams, which can last anywhere from 90 minutes to four hours.
Creeping up on Oceanside middle and high school students are also Regents and finals, which both have the potential to impact final transcript and report cards.
Due to the considerable amount of exams, hard-working students and teachers put in hours of preparation.
According to Lancaster News, forcing students to perform under such high pressure can lead to a variety of mental health issues such as low self-esteem and depression. Many flock to the Oceanside Library or nearby cafes in order to adequately prepare for these exams, with a multitude of other school assignments and extracurriculars overlapping them.
The question is what can students do to de-stress?
Oceanside High School offers upward of 25 Advanced Placement courses in addition to numerous dual enrollment courses with local colleges and universities. This makes the school’s administration and students collectively aware of the test anxiety filling the halls from the beginning of May to the end of June.
As a result, Oceanside High has worked diligently to relieve as much stress as possible from its students, reinstating much-needed confidence to perform to the best of their abilities on the exams.
Oceanside psychology courses in the school have shifted to topics devoted to stress and stress relief: educating students on the commonality of stress among our peers, common tendencies associated with stress, and methods that could help students to relax in a testing scenario.
Tips like envisioning yourself taking the exam prior to it being administered, or adequate sleep and diet could relieve a student’s stress and increase confidence when entering an AP, Regents, SAT or final exam.
Additionally, mental health awareness has been prioritized at Oceanside High this academic year, with many speakers at our human relations day in March captivating students with personal journeys through mental health problems, as well as clubs and organizations integrating it into their awareness profiles.
Mental health is also a topic in the district’s mandated health classes, as well as something that is frequently talked about in physical education classes, in accordance with yoga and meditation units.
As our community of young learners navigates through this extremely stressful time, it is imperative that parents, teachers and friends create an open and supportive dialogue in order to recognize the need for an outlet to have fun and “turn off” the daily pressures facing teens today.