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Some students perform poorly on tests for reasons other than lack of preparation or poor study skills. This common problem is called test anxiety and it occurs when students are too nervous to recall learned material during an exam. If a student has not adequately studied for a test and feels very nervous, that does not qualify as true test anxiety. Test anxiety may be caused by a number of factors such as poor test performance in the past, lack of confidence, feelings of extreme pressure or fear of failure, nervousness about having to perform or a number of other problems. For many people, test anxiety is often a long term problem that began as far back as elementary school. For others, it starts in college. Whatever the origins of test anxiety, it is important to understand that a small amount of anxiety is both normal and beneficial. It helps improve motivation and often improves performance. Too much tension, however, hinders performance and becomes damaging. If you experience extreme nervousness, dread or fear before exams and have put forth your best effort to prepare in advance, you may be suffering from test anxiety. Simply put, test anxiety prevents you from doing your best on exams.