Inhale O2, Exhale CO2


Sarah F. stared at her blank test paper and felt she was drowning in a wave of panic.

Vuslat T., Editor

She eyed the small, digital clock on the classroom wall which shone 8:27 in big, bold and red digits, beating with a pulse overwhelmingly slower than her heartbeat. Instinctively, she put a hand on her heart and focused on her breathing to calm herself down. There was no hope left for her. The clock eyed her back in dismay as if wanting to say, “It’s too late now. Give up.” This morning had been disastrous. Sarah had missed the bus. And even though she arrived to class right on time at 7:45, this chemistry exam had been nightmarish. She was struggling to concentrate on the problems instructing her to balance the chemical equation, find the limiting factor and finally, find the theoretical yield. Three simple steps. She glanced at the digital clock again.


The clock is ticking and three demanding questions are waiting for me.

I handed in the blank test paper and as soon as I exit the classroom Niagara Falls poured down my eyes.”

— Sarah F.

She had answered two of the five test questions and it had taken her more than half of the class. With only 23 minutes remaining, she attempted once again to balance the chemical equations for numbers one, four and five. Her leg had started shaking violently and she was unable to control her cold sweat and the numbness she had started to feel in her fingers. She prayed to God for just one more chance. This test paper was worth 25 percent of her grade.  The score she had received was truly not a representation of her hard work. 

Choosing to see this setback as an opportunity for learning, Sarah F., a 10th grade student at ISG Jubail, shares her experiences of test anxiety, hoping to comfort those who have had similar experiences.

“I was anxious and scared and I thought it was the end of the world.”

According to the American Test Anxiety Association, about 16-20 percent of students have high test anxiety and another 18 percent of students are troubled by moderately-high test anxiety. This makes test anxiety the most widespread academic impairment in schools today. Although Sarah had studied well for the test and had good study habits, fear of failure clouded her judgment.

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“I stayed up the night before studying until 12:30a.m. and I also woke up early to study. I wasn’t sure if I had studied enough and there was this feeling of insecurity, not knowing if what I did was right or if I had studied enough for the test or if I was even prepared.”

Ms. Bennett, the MS/HS learning support teacher at ISG Jubail, talks about the severity of the issue.

“I think that there’s so much expected and the stakes are so high for you kids … It’s a real issue because there’s so much competition with grades, grade point average, passing a class, AP classes, IB classes. It’s so much!”

Working with students who have behavioral and emotional issues for the past twenty-nine years, Ms. Bennett shares her advice on what parents and teachers can do to help students who suffer from test anxiety.

“Talk about it, recognize it, come up with strategies to overcome it. Maybe even set up a time at home to make sure that the study habits are consistent. Make sure that technology gets turned off at an early time during the night.”

As you walk into your next exam, keep in mind that you’re not alone. Everyone has been anxious once or twice in their lives. Always remember that you are in control and you can overcome this feeling. Inhale O2, exhale CO2, and begin.