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Nervous memories

By Staff
Melissa Cason
This week a friend of mine was nervous about taking an exam.
She had just completed paramedic school, and had to take registry. She told me Monday she was worried about taking the test because she knew it would be difficult, and everything she has done in the last year would come down to this one test.
It was make it or break it time for her.
I assured her that she was good at her job, and that she would be fine. But, all her nerves made me think about my own test-taking anxiety.
I become a bundle of nerves when it comes to test-taking time for me. I hate tests, but what's more important, I have serious test anxiety.
I think my test anixety is based on my need to please.
It seems like all my life I have been trying to please someone. First, it was my parents. Then, it was my teachers. Now, it's my husband and family.
When I'd make good grades, everyone was pleased. So this put a lot of pressure on me to perform well. The problem is that the all that pressure turned into anxiety.
One example of my test taking anxiety is my ACTs. I will never forget this event in my life. There I was an honor student about to take the ACT test for the first time. While I made good grades and performed well in school, everyone had told me that the test would dictate the outcome of my entire life.
It would determine things like where I'd go to college and how much scholarship money I'd get.
At 17, you might as well the outcome of that test would decide the first four years out of high school.
I remember going to bed early the night before, and eating a good breakfast the morning of the test.
My brother, Robert, and I took the test on the same day. In case I haven't told you, Robert and I were and still are as opposite as day and night. He was a total athlete and I was his little sister, but not geeky or nerdy.
I remember Robert talking to one of his buddies the morning of the test. I heard him tell him that I'd probably score at the top of the class because of my advanced course of study.
I went in there expecting to do well. But, when they passed out the test, I had to run to the bathroom to throw up.
I had so much anxiety that I spent more than 20 minutes in the bathroom.
And, we all know the ACT is timed. So I wasted a good portion of the English section with my anxiety. About the time my nerves settled down, the stomach cramps started.
To make the story short, I could not concentrate on the test. When it was over, Robert and I went home.
He teased me about getting sick, but nobody expected what the outcome would be.
I got my schools weeks later. I scored a 17. I was so depressed. I am not going to tell you what Robert scored. I was so upset that I immediately scheduled another test.
The second time I took the test, I only scored a 16. That's when it became evident that I am a horrible test taker.
I took the test a third time, and the score really didn't change any.
After that, I started applying to colleges. I got into the good schools: University of Arkansas, University of Arkansas Little Rock, Arkansas State University and University of Arkansas-Monticello.
My counselor submitted my transcript with my application as usual, and my teachers all wrote glowing recommendations for me.
That one little test that was going to dictate my whole turned out to be just a blimp on record.
But, I can't help but laugh when I remember the ACT exams. My whole family finds it amusing.
I just want to say that I am very proud of my friend for not letting anxiety get the best of her.
I know she will be a good paramedic and her success is earned.

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