Millions of people get sweaty palms and start to panic just before a big test. No matter how hard they studied the night before, and how great their note-taking skills are, they just can’t seem to pass a test. It seems to go beyond just a little nervousness, which is normal before any test; some people actually go mentally blank. Why does this happen?
My friend Sally, who actually is one of the smartest people I have ever known, once confided in me that she couldn’t take a test if there was any grade involved, or it was important for a job. “When I was I school I couldn’t take a test! I felt so stupid. I tried hard to pay attention, and I took good notes. I knew everything backwards and forwards, yet as soon as I enter the testing room my mind is a complete blank!” She added, “When it doesn’t really matter whether I do well or not, I usually got 100%. What’s wrong with me?”
Often parents blame their children for not paying attention when they come home with poor grades. In many instances this is far from true. The child could be suffering from performance anxiety. The fact is low tests scores are not always indicative of a lazy or unmotivated person. Many every intelligent people are not able to take a test.
Performance anxiety is caused by stress, and can manifest itself in physical or mental symptoms — such as butterflies in the stomach, pounding heartbeat or headaches. When it gets to a point where you freeze up or zone out, then you have a problem!
Perfectionists, who put pressure on themselves to be the best, or people whose parents are putting pressure on them to get good grades, are among the top candidates for test anxiety. Ironically, this pressure is what stops them from achieving their best. Others who experience test anxiety are usually unprepared, may find the material too difficult, did not get enough rest, or are not getting the proper nutrition.
There are numerous techniques to improve your memory that can be used to eliminate test anxiety.
- Make sure you are prepared. Don’t cram the night before the test – it won’t help! The better you know the material the easier it is to remember, and the more confident you will feel. You can’t learn in one night what you should have been learning all along. If you don’t understand the subject matter, ask your teacher to explain — or get a tutor. Develop good study habits, and learn to improve your study skills.
- Get organized and manage your time. Organize your study room and materials to make learning more comfortable. Don’t procrastinate about studying just before a big test
- Get away from any distractions. You may think you can get something done with music in the background, but your brain has to do double duty by tuning out background noise while concentrating. Turn off the radio and television when studying.
- Get a good night’s sleep —Studies show people who got enough rest – at least 8 hours, prior to taking a test are three times more likely to do well on a test.
- Eat a good breakfast. Food fuels the body, and the mind. Make the meal high in protein and low in sugar. Too much sugar gives your body a quick rush, but has a quick decline as well, so you may start off quick from the gate, but your finish leads a lot to be desired.
- Think Positively! Don’t worry about consequences if you don’t pass, believe that you will. By putting your emphasis on the negative you leave no room in your brain for the test questions. Also, don’t worry about your anxiety; it just makes you more anxious.
- Ask for help! Consult with memory experts or take some memory training courses to help you re-learn how to remember and develop good study habits.
From the desk of Ron White
Increase Concentration And Recall – Extinguish Test Anxiety:
Study Guides and Strategies website — Overcoming test anxiety: http://www.studygs.net/tstprp8.htm
Teens Health (from Nemours) — Test Anxiety: http://kidshealth.org/teen/school_jobs/school/test_anxiety.html#