Beat Test Stress

By The Elm - Nov 08,2013@5:01 pm

By Amy Baldwin
Courtesy of Student Health 101

Study in Style
One of the first steps is to prepare in a way that benefits you the most. Thorough preparation is the foundation of less stress, worry, and anxiety about how well you’ll do.

“Don’t try to mimic the study habits of others if it’s not your style,” said Derek Moore, a success coach and instructor at Pulaski Technical College in North Little Rock, Ark. He advises his students, “Know what type of learner [you] are.” He suggests that this can lead you to the methods of studying that will work best for you.

A Little at a Time
Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have found that one proven study strategy is connecting what you’re learning now to what you already know. They also advocate studying in short spurts, spaced out over several days or weeks, rather than cramming everything into one huge study session—likely the night before your exam.

Starting early with smaller bits of information makes studying more manageable for your brain, and allows you to practice retrieving the information rather than just memorizing or storing it. Though you do want to commit what you’ve learned to your long-term memory, that won’t help come test time if you can’t call it up and write it down.

Don’t Get Caught Speeding… Through a Test
Even well-prepared students can inadvertently sabotage their good study habits by making simple mistakes during an actual test. To avoid fumbles, follow these suggestions:
•Arrive at your test location on time or a little early. You don’t want to feel the extra pressure of being late or rushed.
•Read all instructions slowly and carefully.
•Follow the directions; don’t ignore them in haste.
•Respond to questions about the material you know before tackling the more difficult ones.
•Speak to your instructor before the exam, and during, if you need clarification on something being asked.
•Give yourself time to review your answers before you submit your work.

“You can’t underestimate the confidence that can come from answering the questions that you really know well,” said Kravits, and reviewing your work allows you to catch any small mistakes before they add up to a big plummet in your grade.

Keep Calm and Carry On
Almost 60 percent of the Student Health 101 survey respondents indicated that they use deep breathing to help them stay calm during a test. Thirteen percent said they turn to visualization techniques, and together these can help your body stay relaxed.

Sherry H., a junior at Ashford University online, says, “If you can see your success, it’s easier to attain.”

If you find that test anxiety is impeding your ability to study effectively or remember material on the spot, consider talking with an expert. “Test anxiety is real, and it’s not something to be embarrassed about,” said Suzi. “If your anxiety begins to feel debilitating, talk to [a counselor or therapist]. They often have strategies for reducing anxiety, which may help either before or during the test.”

And lastly, don’t underestimate the value of getting a good night’s sleep before an exam. While cramming before a test may seem helpful, if you’re drowsy and drained the next day, you won’t be able to perform come test time. Sleep actually helps build cognitive ability and solidify memory, so it’s necessary for being sharp on test day.

Take Action
•Review course information well before a test is scheduled.
•Study in short intervals over a longer period of time, rather than trying to cram right before a test.
•Practice retrieving information when you study and not just storing it.
•Get a good night’s sleep before an exam.
•Read all test instructions carefully, and answer the easiest questions first.
•Use stress-reduction techniques to stay calm before and during a test.
•Talk to someone you trust if your anxiety is unmanageable.

The Elm

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