This Is Only a Test: Managing Test Anxiety • What are the signs and causes of test anxiety? • What can I do to prevent test anxiety? • How should I prepare for tests? • What should I do on test day? • What if my mind goes blank? • How do I cope with test anxiety? • What should I do after the test?
What Are the Signs of Test Anxiety? • Test Anxiety can express itself physically: headaches, upset stomach, racing pulse, or sweaty hands are a few ways your body tells you “I am freaking out here!” • Test anxiety can express itself emotionally: you may find it hard to control your feelings.
Test Anxiety Quiz Never Rarely Sometimes Often Always 1. I have visible signs of nervousness such1 2 3 4 5 as sweaty palms or shaky hands right before a test. 2. I have “butterflies” in my stomach. 1 2 3 4 5 3. I feel nauseated. 1 2 3 4 5 4. I read through the test and feel that 1 2 3 4 5 I do not know any of the answers. 5. I panic. 1 2 3 4 5 6. My mind goes blank. 1 2 3 4 5 7. I remember the information that 1 2 3 4 5 I blanked on once I get out of the testing situation. 8.I have trouble sleeping the night 1 2 3 4 5before a test. 9. I make mistakes on easy questions 1 2 3 4 5 or or put answers in the wrong places. 10. I have difficulty choosing answers. 1 2 3 4 5
What Causes Test Anxiety? • You worry that you haven’t studied. • You worry about your performance on the test. • You worry about physical symptoms (“ooh, I think I’m getting a migraine . . .”). • You worry about how others are doing. • You worry about negative consequences.
Too Much Anxiety Can Affect Your Grade! • “I know that I know this!” • “I can see the answer in my mind—it was on the page with the skeleton diagram.” • “I don’t remember anything about quadratic equations!” • “ ” • “Is she already finished? Everyone’s smarter than me!” • “Ten Minutes?! How can there only be ten minutes left?”
So What Can I Do to Prevent Test Anxiety? • Visualize and articulate success. • Resist and dismissnegativity. (Example). • Calm body = Calm Mind: two effective relaxation techniques. • Prepare for the test by following the “six steps of studying” and practicing. • Get a grip! Put the test in perspective.
How Should I Prepare? • Plan your study schedule and agenda ahead of time; plan to study every day. • Study your homework, tests, and quizzes; your readings; and your notes. • Practice the test every day. At the end of each study session, write a few test questions covering the material you studied, & answer the questions.
How Should I Prepare?Practice . . . • Practice for the test. Do a full dress rehearsal a week or less ahead of time. Dress, eat, and time yourself as if it were the real test. Use your study questions for test questions.
How Should I Prepare? 24 Hours to T-time. • Make sure all of your supplies are ready the night before (clothes, food, pen, calculator, etc.) • Set an alarm. . .and a back-up if needed! • Go to bed on time, and get a full night’s restful sleep. • Eat a high-protein breakfast, and avoid sugar and caffeine.
What Should I Do on Test Day? • T-Time: Breathe deeply and slowly as the tests are passed out. Calm body = calm mind. • 1 Minute to T-Time: Sit comfortably away from distraction, your supplies out and ready. • Avoid classmates who are discussing anything course-related. Consider headphones. • 5 minutes to T-Time: Take out a problem or question which you have already successfully worked and look it over briefly. • 10 minutes to T-Time: Arrive early. Walk around the building—exercise makes you alert.
What If My Mind Goes Blank? • There are two reasons for this: 1) You never did any work to prepare, and so your mind actually is blank. Only option: learn from your mistake. 2) You are suffering from test anxiety. We can work through this quickly to start earning points!
How Do I Cope With Test Anxiety? • Begin right away by reading all the directions, paying attention to point value of questions. • Figure quickly how much time you’ll spend on each question, and then start answering. • Work one question at a time, and plan to work the questions in order. When you get to a question you can’t answer quickly, circle the number and move to the next question. • Keep positive and keep moving. • If you find yourself getting flustered, worried or stressed, STOP working immediately, and . . .
Take a Breather! • Close your eyes. Calm your body through relaxation techniques. Examples: • Muscle Tension/Relaxing • Breathing deeply and deliberately • Once your body is calm, calm your mind: • Use an appropriate resist/dismiss statement. • Clear the clutter from your thoughts. • Re-focus and open your eyes. • Wait until you are calm before you rejoin the test.
What Should I Do After the Test? • You’ll know how you did when your instructor hands back the exam. Focus on feeling good about your effort. • Reward yourself. You worked hard, and you gave the test your best effort. • Use your testing experience as a learning tool: reflect on your preparation and the test-taking process. • How and when did you feel anxiety? • How could you prepare for that in the future?
Better Skills Lead to Better Grades Stop by Your El Centro College Learning Center (Room A350) and Learn How to Improve All of Your Study Skills! Sources: http://www.ic.ac.uk/healthcentre/exam.htm, www.issthomas.edu, http://www.sdc.uwo.ca/learning/mcanx.html