Anxiety Is Very Common – Especially When Testing!

Depending on your age, you will or will not be familiar with everyone having some sort of debilitating disorder. It is commonplace. The topic of this recent blog revolves around ANXIETY. By modern standards, anxiety is an emotion earmarked by feelings of tension, worry, and can include some physical changes like an increase in blood pressure. Folks with anxiety disorders typically struggle with recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns. They may even purposely avoid certain situations out of concern for an attack. Dealing with anxiety can be devastating.

How does this apply to firefighter applicants? I am so glad you asked. Let’s talk about what is more commonly known as TEST ANXIETY which can be a huge obstacle in the firefighter hiring process.

Many applicants have done their best to prepare for the firefighter testing only to be immobilized by test anxiety when entering the testing room. But, can test anxiety be brought under control? The answer is yes and no. We will do everything we can to help you take that test and do your best.

Here is the skinny – when you are feeling test anxiety, understand that it might just be a small level of adrenalin at the beginning of the exam. This can be a good thing as it will keep your mind sharp. When the adrenaline and anxiety get too high – well – let’s just say, “HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM! This mix can prevent you from concentrating and doing your best in the examination process. You might be plagued by racing thoughts that fuel the fire. Once that ball is rolling, it can be hard to slow down. Here are some things I have shared over the years to help with test anxiety:
1. Make certain you are well prepared for the test. This will relieve some pressure. Practice! Practice! Practice! This includes taking practice tests – again and                     again. Allow yourself to own the confidence that you are prepared.

  1. Turn that frown upside down! Try to take a negative thought and turn it into a positive one. If you feel overwhelmed by what might not happen, turn it into what might happen. Implementing positive affirmations can help here.
  2. Weeks before the actual exam, visualize yourself walking into the exam and sitting down to take the test. This simple act will get you familiar with what you might be experiencing and help you get comfortable ahead of time.
  3. Take deep breaths. This is relaxing and can be calming. It will help you focus on the task at hand – Doing your best on this test.
  4. Visualize yourself acing that test! YOU GOT THIS!

Remember that a certain amount of nervousness is normal. And, I am not making light of the reality of anxiety and its medical condition. I am offering tips on how to earn your badge and get that dream job when the going gets tough.

“Nothing counts ’til you have the badge . . . Nothing!”

Fire Captain Bob