What is Test Anxiety? • If you experience test anxiety while taking a test you may notice the following: • Mental distraction: your mind may drift while you are reading questions or writing answers, and you may have trouble concentrating on the test • Physical symptoms: headaches, stomach aches, nausea, diarrhea, sweating, racing heart, shortness of breath, etc. • Mental blocks: you may be unable to remember the information you studied, unable to answer the questions
What Causes Test Anxiety? • Previous negative experiences with tests: • Students who have failed in the past may feel they will fail again • Lack of preparation for the exam may cause students to “forget” the material during a test: • Poor study skills, poor note-taking skills, and poor time management can lead to a false sense of confidence on a test • Perfectionism: • Places stress on the student to be perfect, anything less than an A is not acceptable - this is not realistic, and results in a fear of failure • “If I fail this test, then I’ll fail this class, then I won’t graduate on time, I won’t get that job, and my life will be over!” • Don’t “catastrophize!” Negative thinking creates anxiety.
Symptoms of Test Anxiety • I study hard but I get confused when I’m taking a test • Study effectively: review notes daily, review notebooks weekly, make the material meaningful to you, and quiz yourself when studying. • I can’t sleep before a test – then I’m exhausted and I fail • Plan your time carefully: study throughout the semester, not just the night before the test, learn to relax yourself, and have good sleep habits throughout the semester. • I can’t stay focused on the test – my mind wanders • Take a brief break, close your eyes, tense and relax your muscles, breathing deeply, and get back to the test. If permitted, take a walk down the hall, drink some water, and get back to the test.
Avoid Negative Thinking! • Examples of negative thinking: • “Why should I spend time studying? I never do well no matter how much I study. “ • “My sister is the smart one in the family. I can’t do this.” • “I can’t let my parents down.” • “I always remember the answers after I turn in my test.” • Negative thoughts create anxiety. Stay positive, be prepared, and encourage yourself along the way. Have a positive support system with friends and family who help you succeed.
Study Effectively to Avoid Anxiety • Study where you can concentrate – avoid distractions and interruptions from TV, internet, phone, family, and friends • Study in the same place – keep school supplies stocked up so you don’t have to stop to look for something you need • Use good lighting – straining your eyes can make them tired • Use a desk or table – try not to study on a comfortable sofa or bed as it is too easy to nod off to sleep • Take a nap – you will study better when you are rested
Study Effectively to Avoid Anxiety • Use flashcards • Make charts, timelines, graphs • Attend all classes, and always “be present” in class • Ask questions, listen for important notes • Get help, ask questions • Eat well and sleep well throughout the semester
Plan Effectively to Avoid Anxiety • Keep notes organized • Review notes soon after class, and before class, and at least once a week • Keep a calendar with test dates and deadlines • Schedule several short review sessions, rather than one long “cram” session • Schedule some free time, to re-energize
Good Test-Taking Skills • For short-answer question: • Budget your time: keep an eye on the clock – don’t spend too much time on one answer • Do easy questions first: skip a question if you have to think about it or if it has you puzzled • Look for clues in the question: words like “define” or “describe” • Answer each question: even if you can not answer the question completely, write what you know – writing may spark your memory • Use the full time allowed: if you finish before time is up, go back and review your test to make sure you’ve answered all the questions, fix errors or add information
Good Test-Taking Skills • For essay questions • Read all questions first – so you can answer the “easier” questions first, and plan your time carefully • Organize your ideas – make a diagram or outline on scratch paper before you start writing your essay answers • Start with the easiest question – write your answers to the “easier” questions first to get them out of the way • Proof read at the end – when you are done, read through you’re answers to make sure your answers make sense, and edit any errors
Good Test-Taking Skills • For standardized tests • Get a study guide and review it daily for weeks before the exam • Be realistic – there may be some questions you can not answer • Make an educated guess • Eliminate choices you KNOW are wrong • Look for clues in remaining choices • For standardized, multiple choice, matching exams • Solve in the order given, some questions may relate to previous questions on the test • Read each choice carefully and make sure you understand the question • Think as you read – make sure understand what is being asked • Narrow your choices or make an educated guess • Finish the exam – keep an eye on the clock and make sure you answer all the questions
Learn to Control Your Anxiety • Keep your thoughts and your mood positive. • “I can do this” “I’m ready for this.” “I know this.” • Use your imagination in a positive way • imagine yourself calm, in control, winning, etc. • Use relaxation when you feel yourself becoming anxious • Breathe deeply, tighten muscles and then relax them • Close your eyes and imagine you are in a peaceful/happy place • Close your eyes, breathe deeply, slowly, focusing on each breath • Relaxation techniques can be used • To help you sleep before a big day • As a refresher between classes or studying • To help you re-focus during a test • Learn to relax
Deal with Pressure • Before the pressure builds and anxiety is a problem • Visit VGCC counseling services: meet with a counselor to discuss your concerns (counseling at VGCC is free and confidential ) • Talk to your peers: spend time talking about your problems or worries with trusted friends who have a positive influence • Talk to your instructors: let them know about your concerns, check on your progress, and get advice about succeeding in class • Talk to your parent, a family member, or spouse: everyone needs a support system at home to be successful in school
Anxiety Isn’t All Bad • Keep in mind, that some level of anxiety is actually a good thing in our lives. A little bit of anxiety, helps us get things done, do our best, reach our goals, and even avoid danger. • But, when anxiety becomes overwhelming or gets in the way of our normal day-to-day activities, it can have a negative impact on our lives, at home, at work, in class, on tests, etc. • Learn to manage your anxiety effectively. • Learn to relax and put things in perspective.
Take Steps to Beat Test Anxiety • Study effectively and really learn the material • Learn efficient test-taking strategies • Use relaxation techniques • Be prepared
View our other presentations on • Study Skills • Note-taking Skills • Time Management • Stress Management
Read More About Relaxation Techniques • http://helpguide.org/mental/stress_relief_meditation_yoga_relaxation.htm • http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/features/blissing-out-10-relaxation-techniques-reduce-stress-spot • http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/relaxation-technique/SR00007
More Information on Test Anxiety • http://www.studygs.net/tstprp8.htm • http://www.how-to-study.com/study-skills/en/taking-tests/47/test-anxiety/index.asp • http://www.testanxietytips.com/