Testing Anxiety: Why the Test Make-Up Center Needs a New Home


When you’re around people all the time, I found that you end up getting two things: a ton of tea and every illness known to man. Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but we do get sick from the people we are around. Take the common cold for instance. The Mayo Clinic states that “the virus can spread through droplets in the air when someone who is sick coughs, sneezes or talks. It also spreads by hand-to-hand contact with someone who has a cold or by sharing contaminated objects, such as utensils, towels, toys or telephones.” It is just natural that we will get sick from each other.

For me, I have an even greater chance since right after school I tutor kids at my job. Not only am I exposed to the germs of my school, but I am also exposed to the germs of all the schools the kids attend. In retrospect, it seems that I am a sickness magnet. I have just come to the terms that I WILL get sick. Reflecting back on two weeks ago when I got sick and couldn’t go to school, the most dreaded thing happened: I missed an AP Calculus BC test.

The next step of making up a test is to go to the test make-up room which also serves as the place for in-school suspension and detention. When the test make-up center was moved into this room my sophomore year, it bewildered my friends and me. Taking the amount and level of classes we were such as AP and Honors, we could never imagine trying to take a test with that many distractions. Yet, here I am in my senior year, and this is still a problem.

Full disclosure, I am not trying to get anyone in trouble. I don’t blame the students in detention, but it makes no sense for these students to be in the same room as those making up tests. Kids are making take-out orders for their friends, watching distracting videos on Youtube, socializing with their friends, and even one time a kid put a plastic bag over his head so he would gain the attention of the room. How can one take a test, much less an AP time sensitive test, in that room? 

In a scholarly article titled, “The Effect of Distractors on Physiological Stress During a Test,” students Cannon, Dalton, Greenberg, Jones, Kohler, and Truehl, analyzed a study that found that “students’ task based performance was significantly impaired by the exposure to the irrelevant background noise … The researchers suggested that irrelevant background noise distracted the students’ attention to task-irrelevant thoughts, therefore, directly impairing cognitive performance.” So when other students are talking, one’s ability to focus and to think was decreased significantly.  The article also researched a “study by Banbury et al. (1998) [that] explored the connection between cognitive performance and typical noise heard in an office setting. Their data suggested that both talking and general background noise, such as rustling papers, computers, tapping, etc, disrupts memory and, consequently, performance on both written and numerical tasks.” So if someone else is eating food loudly or doing something unpleasant, it would hinder one’s performance and recall to their knowledge on the subject.

I know I am not the only one who finds this situation frustrating. Last year a student proposed the notion of moving the testing center out of the room during a meeting with the administration about how to make the school better. Fast forward, and nothing has changed. This leads to the idea that feels like a “punishment” for missing a test. In many cases, students get sick or have more important things than school, and sometimes they miss a test. They should be allowed to make up the test in a proper environment. The environment South has now is the recipe for lower performance and increased stress.

Students deserve an area to make up tests in peace where they have the same opportunity to do just as well as their classmates. A distracting environment is not the situation we should be putting students in if they just got back from being sick, and they are already stressed about the test. While administration could put more regulations on the center for unruly individuals, I have seen firsthand that some individuals will not change their behavior even if the rules are properly enforced. Furthermore, this is a huge issue for students at South, and it has been brought to the attention of the administration. So why hasn’t anything been done about it? If your academic performance is important to you, then we need to push the idea of moving the testing center out of the in-school detention area. 

Works Cited

Cannon, Emma, et al. The Effect of Distractors on Physiological Stress During a Test. pdfs.semanticscholar.org/88ea/c60d7b82e18287ed4dc7950601b230381324.pdf.

“Common Cold.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 20 Apr. 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/common-cold/symptoms-causes/syc-20351605.

“The Guardian.” The Guardian, 2019, i.guim.co.uk/img/media/f90120cb94ff455ce3dc38813620be918a848b7d/0_244_7360_4418/master/7360.jpg?width=300&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=3b8b023f7501affa983954641318db42.