Reducing Test Anxiety
Most of us struggle with anxiety around exams and testing – it’s normal! Anxiety can feel like “butterflies” in your stomach, causing poor appetite, short temper, and poor test taking. There are many ways to reduce test anxiety. Obviously, you want to be prepared for tests and understand the content information. If you are still doing poorly on tests, try these simple strategies:
Test Taking Strategy 1 - Get a Good Night's Sleep
This doesn’t just mean getting your 8 hours of zzzz’s (and studies have shown that teenagers need at least 8 hours.) You need to turn off the TV, radio, cell phone, and computer! Use your bed as a place to sleep, not to catch up on social networking or your favorite shows. Not only does this help with your sleep patterns and make you feel more rested, it will also help reduce headaches caused by tension. Get into a bedtime routine that will help wind down your day. Make relaxation your goal, and sleep should follow.
Test Taking Strategy 2 - Increase short-term Memory
Many students say they forgot the information that they studied when they began taking their test. When all that information is fresh in your head, increase your short-term memory by incorporating these strategies into your test routine.
- Eat protein for breakfast or lunch. Examples of protein would include eggs, peanut butter, chicken, or protein bars. Keep a PBJ in your backpack for an afternoon snack that will help your memory and reduce fatigue.
- Keep your body hydrated by drinking plenty of water or healthy beverages.
- Getting plenty of sunlight or Vitamin D will also help to increase your short-term memory.
- Play games that make you think such as Sudoku, matching games, board games, and crosswords. These games help to exercise your mind and increase your short-term memory.
- Keep getting that good night's sleep!
- Make flash cards and practice.
Test Taking Strategy 3 - Reducing Test Anxiety
Additional ways to help reduce test related anxiety include:
- Relax with about 10 Deep Breaths - in through your nose and out through your mouth. The practice of deep breathing stimulates our parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), helping us to relax, unlike the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) which stimulates activities associated with the fight-or-flight response. Keep your shoulders relaxed. Your abdomen should expand, and your chest should rise very little.
- Reduce Distractions – Ask to test in a small group, a quieter room, a room without windows, a room with less activity, away from friends that you know are a distraction, away from students who are done in 10 minutes making you feel like you should be done, too. This is about YOU! Tell your teachers what you need.
- Support From Parents – Tell your parents you are having a test. Believe it or not, they are here to help you and like being involved in your lives. Their interest and support can stimulate you to want to do well. Parents (and siblings) are also good resources to help you prepare and study at home.
Test Taking Strategy 4 - Prepare To Succeed
You have studied the material and now it’s time for the test. Put your name on your paper and briefly review each page. Allot time and order to each section. You should know the point value of each section of your test and can prioritize. For example, if you have 10 True/False questions (1 pt. each), 10 Multiple Choice questions (2 pts. Each) and 3 essay questions (10 pts. Each) you may want to complete high point items first, or allot time for each such as 10 minutes for T/F, 15 minutes for multiple choice, and 20 minutes for the essays. Extra time can be used at the end to review.
You will need to start this strategy within 2 minutes of test-taking according to research. Next, take deep breaths and say your affirmations to yourself:
I believe I will be successful.
I will reach my goals.
I know how to take a test.
I am prepared to take this test.
The power of Positive Thinking!!
Test Taking Strategy 5 - Inspect the Instructions
- Read the Instructions Carefully!
- Underline what to do and where to respond.
- Many people only answer part of a question. Make sure you are answering all parts of the question. Make sure you are answering what is asked. If the question asks where, tell them where. If it asks your opinion, give your opinion, etc.
- Watch for Multiple Choice questions stating all are true EXCEPT… OR which answer is NOT correct. These can be tricky because it forces you to think in terms of wrong answers instead of correct ones.
- Many T/F questions ask that you correct false answers to make them true. Don’t miss doing this.
Test Taking Strategy 6 -
Read, Remember, Reduce
- Read the whole question.
- Remember what you studied
- Reduce the choices – cross off answers you know are wrong
Answer or Abandon
- Either answer the question OR...
- Abandon the question for the moment and go back to it at the end, but circle the question number.
- Sometimes you can find clues to the questions you don’t know in other questions on the test. Something just may “ring a bell” for you – so leave the question to return to at the end of the test.
Test Taking Strategy 7 -
Sometimes when you are unsure of an answer, you can still use deductive reasoning and background knowledge to estimate your best choice.
These are words such as ALL, ALWAYS, NEVER, EVERY, NO, NONE, and ONLY. Though these words can be true in many sentences, most things in life are not “absolutes”, so chances are this answer may be wrong. Instead, you may have more success with answers that include Non-absolutes such as FEW, SOME, SELDOM, SOMETIMES, MOST, MANY, OFTEN, and USUALLY.
Eliminate Similar Choices
Sometimes answer choices may be very similar – and they can’t both be correct – but they can both be wrong. Look for similar answers that you can eliminate from your multiple choice list.
A common strategy among test takers USED to be, “when in doubt choose C”, but test writers heard that strategy, also. As a last resort, consider choosing the longest or most-detailed answer. In an attempt to make the answer undeniably correct, the right answer can wind up having more detail and being longer than the others. This is a last resort strategy, but often true when playing Trivia Crack!
When your test is complete, survey the entire test to ensure all questions are answered to the best of your ability. Unless the test itself recommends only answering the questions in which you are confident, review the test to make sure all questions have been answered. This is the time to go back and try to answer the questions you circled earlier. Only switch an answer when you are sure; beware of second guessing yourself!
GOOD LUCK ON YOUR NEXT EXAM!!