Monday, May 22, 2006

Resources for Test Anxiety

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Resources For Test Anxiety
Test anxiety is stress directly related to testing situations, for many, testing is stressful and can unchecked - can even make you ill. Because exam results can determine whether you pass or fail a class, earn a scholarship, get admitted to a desired program, or even earn entry into a professional school, graduate program, job or career, it is natural to feel some anxiety when you take a test.
Test anxiety can develop for a number of reasons. There may be some prior negative experience with test taking that serves as the activating event. Students who have experienced, or have a fear of, blanking out on tests or the inability to perform in testing situations can develop anticipatory anxiety. Worrying about how anxiety will affect you can be as debilitating as the anxiety itself. This kind of anxiety can build as the testing situation approaches, and can interfere with the student’s ability to prepare adequately. Also, having a medical problem like asthma, sleep wake disorder, insomnia, attention deficits, obesity, or dyslexia can exacerbate the stress during the test situation.
Symptoms of test anxiety can be both emotional and psychophysiological.
Emotional symptoms can be anger, low self esteem, embarrassment, crying, frustration, negative ruminating thoughts. Math phobia is an extreme example where people are afraid of math because it is hard for them. In younger children- disturbing a class in order to avoid taking a test is better than admitting to " being stupid" for having low grades.
Psychosophysiological symptoms are feelings of panic, confusion, disorientation, loss of memory, depression, rapid heart beat, nausea, shakiness, tight muscles, headaches, stomach aches, excessive sweating, flushing or feeling cold.
Dealing with Test Anxiety
Keep things in perspective. Be satisfied and give yourself credit for your hard work. Resist the temptation to blame your circumstances and outcomes on situations and people you can't control.• Develop a sense for your role in your outcomes. Remember that grades are not a measure of self-worth. Instead- turn a negative into a positive. Tell yourself that solving your own "test anxiety" is a project that you will take up and succeed in.
Improve concentration and attention. Improve, listening skills in the class room. Fight the urge to become preoccupied and distracted by thoughts and concerns unrelated to exam content. Learn to recognize negative self-talk and combat it with positive, self-supportive statements (affirmations) such as "I am prepared and understand the material. I am happy today." "Life is fun." I am lucky to be in school getting an education." Get a book with jokes- smiling will loosen you up before an exam and help memory too.

Learn and use relaxation techniques like progressive muscle relaxation, controlled breathing, visualization, seated yoga. Buy a relaxation tape or video with relaxation exercises. There are natural exercises to improve concentration like holding a smooth stone while staring at a liquid timer for a few minutes. If your stress is high and you also have a concentration problem, you might want to try out a home biofeedback system. Alternatively, you might go to a biofeedback specialist.
Other natural thinks that help anxiety during exams. Bach Flower Remedy- Rescue Remedy. Use a combination of aromatic oils for relaxed concentration like lavender, bergamot, grapefruit, lemon.
Familiarize yourself with study strategies skills like being able to anticipate what the exam will cover.

Before the exam :

1) Get a good night's sleep before hand --- DONT CRAM!
2) Eat a healthy breakfast every day so you'll be energized and able to think clearly.
3) As you take the exam, breathe slowly and evenly to relax and increase blood flow to the brain.
4) Do some seated yoga exercises like those stretching exercises shown in air flights.
5) Dress up, you will feel more confident.
6) Close your eyes and visualize answering questions and worse case scenarios. Then you will be prepared for anything.
What can you do to control test anxiety?
• If you feel very anxious in the exam, take a few minutes to calm yourself down. Stretch your arms and legs and then relax them again. Do this a couple of times. Take a few slow deep breaths. Do some positive internal self-talk; say to yourself, "I will be OK, I can do this." Then direct your focus on questions; link questions to their corresponding lecture and/or chapter.
• If the exam is more difficult than you anticipated, try to focus and just do your best. It might be enough to get you through, even with a reasonable grade! Remember- you can get points for guessing a correct answer.
• When the exam is over, treat yourself. Go to a movie, restaurant, or outing.
Break down any problem into smaller problems so that you do not not get overwhelmed
• Reviewing your past performance on tests
to improve and learn from experience
Test preparation to reduce anxiety:

Use whatever strategies you can to personalize success: vizualization, logic, talking to your self, practice, team work, journaling, etc.
View the exam as an opportunity to show how much you've studied and to receive a reward for the studying you've done

• Don't go to the exam with an empty stomach
Fresh fruits and vegetables are often recommended to reduce stress.
Stressful foods can include processed foods, artificial sweeteners, carbonated soft drinks, chocolate, eggs, fried foods, junk foods, sugar, white flour products, fried foods or oily foods, foods containing preservatives or heavy spices and MSG.
• Take a small snack, or some other nourishment.

During the test:
• Read the directions carefully
• Budget your test taking time
• If you go blank, skip the question and go on
• If you're taking an essay test
and you go blank on the whole test, pick a question and start writing. It may trigger the answer in your mind

There's no reward for being the first done
Mind mapping
Tony Buzon
Bach Flower remedy
Aromatic oils.
Speed reading
Associative memory techniques
Seated Yoga
Attention skills
Study strategies skills – how to listen and take notes
Biofeedback to improve concentration
Keep your exams and make sure you know why you did not get the question correct- even ask the teacher. People have a tendency to repeat mistakes. So look to see if there is a pattern to your mistakes.