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How to Deal with Test Anxiety and Stress

I have a lot of experience studying and test taking for my bachelor’s degree, teaching credential, two Masters Degrees, and Ph.D. I wanted to share what I’ve learned with you. Traveling around the world, talking with young people for my book Awesome: How Global Youth Will Transform Our Future I heard how much time and sometimes worry and anxiety goes into studying for the university entrance exam. I wanted to add the advice and experience of young people from various countries, high school and university students, to discover how they excel. We started a Facebook page called Test Success: How to Cope with Stress and Anxiety where we invite you to add your comments and suggestions. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Test-Success-How-to-Cope-with-Stress-and-Anxiety/185582088232378?skip_nax_wizard=true


To take tests well, when studying for a test, quiz yourself on questions you think might be on the test. Find out as much as you can about the form of the examination. Will it be essay or multiple choice?

Study with small groups and take turns quizzing each other, as the best way to learn is to teach. Negative self-talk is an enemy, so post positive messages around your workspace, on your mirror and refrigerator, such as “I am capable of deep concentration to remember what I read. I’m calm and focused when I take a test.” Set realistic goals ad reward yourself for achieving them, as we respond to rewards and praise. You might ask your parents to add to your rewards when you achieve a goal. Give yourself and others more praise than criticism. Look for the positive lessons in a challenging problem. If you didn’t do well, think about what you learned from the experience rather than beating yourself up.

Start with a deep breath from the lower stomach area. Quickly imagine the most calm and perfect place for you, such as a beach, a lake, a mountaintop, or a sand dune. Look at the teacher for a moment to focus and then get started. Read the instructions carefully. Tilt the paper so your head is not bending over in a tired position. Go through the questions and do the easy ones first. When in doubt, go with your first response. Then go back to the question you’re not sure about. If you have time, check over the answers several times before handing in the test.

To improve your test-taking results, be over prepared and avoid cramming. Try to predict test questions as you study and write down answers on study cards. Breathe, relaxing your muscles as you exhale all your air, gently expanding your belly as you breathe in air. Do this at least three times. Always reading the directions completely, nothing point values so you can plan your time. Don’t leave any answers blank, even if you have to guess, unless there is a penalty for wrong answers. In true and false tests, inclusive words like “all” and “always” often flag a “false” statement. There are usually more true than false questions on a test. Longer questions are likely to be correct. Read multiple choice statements noting whether each is a “T” or an “F” so that you can respond to an “all of the above” choice (these are likely to be true).

During the test, if you feel anxious, take deep breaths, visualize getting your test back with an “A,” imagine an invisible wise person helping you, or use positive self-talk. Tense and relax your feet, ankles, calves, and other muscles.

Also see interviews with teens globally. http://www.youtube.com/user/TheGlobalyouth


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