Presentation on theme: "Overcoming Test Anxiety"— Presentation transcript:
1 Overcoming Test Anxiety Student AcademicSuccess CenterDo you study hard, but “blank out” in the middle of exams?Do you find yourself feeling so stressed before tests that you almost feel sick?Do you feel overwhelmed just thinking about taking your next exam?
2 Understanding Anxiety What is Anxiety?A Physiological and psychological response to a perceived danger or threatThis means that we can learn to perceive the situation differently
3 Impaired concentration Anxiety SymptomsPsychological:ConfusionMemory blocksIrritabilityImpaired concentrationPoor judgmentsFrustrationPhysiologicalUpset stomachRestlessnessSleep problemsMuscle tensionHeadachesBack painWhen an individual perceives an exam to be a “danger” or a threat (“But, I might fail”), these are some of the symptoms they may experience. These can undermine one’s ability to perform in a test situation.
4 Assess YourselfAs you think about your experiences with test anxiety, what “score” would you give yourself?A 1 would mean that you have a sense of complete calm and confidence about test taking. However, a more common feeling is to be a little nervous before an exam, even though you have strategies to manage your stress.A 10 would mean that you are extremely stressed-in fact you go into tests and can hardly remember your own name. You experience most, it not all, of the symptoms listed on the previous side.
5 Approaches to Managing Test Anxiety Cognitive Restructuring (Challenging negative thoughts)Efficient Learning Strategies (Preparation)Relaxation TechniquesA Balanced LifeThere are several ways to approach the problem of test anxiety. We have chosen four strategies that we feel are most effective. Let’s now take a closer look at each strategy….
6 1. Cognitive Restructuring The first approach is combating test anxiety is to examine the thought that creates anxiety“Cognitive Restructuring” is based on the premise that what you are feeling right now is altered by what you are thinking-internal messages or “self-talk”. The goal is to restructure those thoughts that cause anxiety and undermine your success.Challenging self-defeating and negative thoughts can be a very powerful way to manage anxiety.
8 Now take a moment and consider the thoughts that are going through your mind before an exam.
9 Changing our ThinkingWe all talk to ourselves, but we don’t realize how negative internal dialog can thwart our attempts to do well in exams. Often, we not only accept but cultivate negative and irrational messages, which creates even greater anxiety. A seed of negative self-talk can be planted as a result of fear, bad experience, or misdirected motivation.
10 So, how can you actually restructure the way you think? Saying, “Just stop thinking that way” doesn’t usually work. Cognitive restructuring involves exchanging a negative thought process with a rational, balanced message based on reason.
11 Thoughts that Lead to Anxiety “I’m terrible at taking tests.” “I’m just not smart enough.” “If I fail this test, I’m going to get kicked out of Grand Valley.”
12 Rational Thoughts“Taking tests is hard for me, but I will prepare, work hard, and do my best!”“Math is a difficult subject for me. I am a smart person; I just need to learn new strategies to learn math.”“How I perform on a test does not determine my value as a person”
13 How do you restructure this message to yourself? “You got a D on your last BIO test, even though you thought you did well. You are going to do just as bad this time.”Take a sheet of paper and try this. Write down a few sentences that reflect how you would restructure this message. Remember, you are going to re-write this “thought” to make it a realistic, yet positive and encouraging message to yourself.“I have had some bad experiences with tests before, but with this test I am going to let myself start fresh. I will go into this exam recognizing that I have studied and now will just share what I know. I will use my test taking strategies and do my best.”
14 I MUST GET A GOOD GRADE!Let’s say there is a lot riding on this test. In fact, let’s say that if you don’t get an A or a B you will not be able to get into a program that you have been wanting to get into all your life!! The pressure is not only in your head-there are significant consequences to not doing well. So, how would you restructure this message?
15 “I recognize that if I do not get an A on this test it may change my life plans. But I also know I have done all I know to do to prepare for this exam. I know that putting too much pressure on myself can backfire. So I am choosing to release myself from the pressure, and realize that as much as I want this A, I can and will handle the consequences of the grade I make. I will do my best. I can do no more.”Taking the pressure off with messages that are true and encouraging can make the difference between freezing and being able to share what you know about the topic on the test.
16 Let’s Practice:“I’ll probably fail because this teachers tests are always impossible.”Restructured thought: ______________________________________________________________________________________________“I have always been a terrible test taker. I just know I will fail this one too.”Restructured thought:______________________________________________________________________________________________
17 So……the goal of restructuring our thoughts is to release oneself from the pressure of messages that undermine your ability to perform to the best of your ability.
18 Dealing with the pastWrite down everything you have experienced in the past while taking tests.Include physical symptoms, emotions, thoughts, behaviors etc.Now go back and think about each item. What are ways in which each anxiety might be eliminated or reduced?
19 Dealing with Test Anxiety Involves Changing Your Mindset We must take responsibility for our own choices regarding test anxietyWe are all creatures of habit and patterns, but we have the capacity to change.Realize it is a PROCESS – it won’t change overnightThe “answers” do not lie in magic-they lie in making changes and implementing strategies.A change of lifestyle patters and thoughts come with repetition and practice
20 Things to dwell on Create your own positive mantra I have done what I can, now I am just going to do my best.I have a choice as to how I perceive this situation.Will I remember this in 10 years?My performance on a test does not determine my value as a person.Create your own positive mantra
21 2. Use Efficient Learning Strategies and Prepare Many students are having test anxiety for good reason…They are not prepared!There is no substitute for being prepared
22 Preparing for the Test Do the reading Keep up with the day to day work Take good notes, fill in and clarify rightGo to study groups/tutoringReview material within 24 hoursReview regularlyMake flashcardsOverview the work to be done, prioritize topics and schedule time to do it. ( Try to give yourself 7 days to study for tests)Make up practice tests or do practice problems.Use study strategies that work for how you learnWork to understand the material not just to memorize it.
23 Taking the Test Arrive early! Take a deep breath Read the directions! Identify the value of questionsDownload any key information (formulas, equations, lists, etc.)Answer questions in a strategic order/plan your timeEasy questions first, those with most points next, difficult afterTry to answer the question stem on your own before you look at the answers.Read all the answers before you choose one (for multiple choice)Look for answers in other test questionsReviewTo make sure you didn’t misread a question
24 Analyzing Returned Tests If you receive your test back to keep, rework your errorsIf not, meet with your professorIdentify the reason you missed questionsDid you miss “big picture concepts” or details?Where did the questions come from?Book, lecture, etc.Analyze how you prepared – did it work?
25 3. Relaxation Techniques: Deep Breathing Inhale a deep full breath all the way down to your tummy, then exhale slowly and completely.Think of breathing in peace with each inhalation. Visualize blowing out tension and negativity with each exhalation
26 Take a few moments to try this deep breathing exercise Take a few moments to try this deep breathing exercise. As you inhale slowly, fill your lungs as full as you can. When you exhale, allow your muscles to relax as you blow out all tension and anxious thoughts. Repeat this several times. Do this before you study, in the middle of a break, just before a test, and in the middle of your test. Not only do our bodies relax when we practice deep breathing, but our brains work much better with sufficient oxygen! This extra oxygen allows you to think more clearly and can help alleviate mental blocks! Try it!!
27 Relax… Progressive Relaxation Progressive relaxation is an exercise whereby you slowly and methodically relax each muscle in your body while keeping your mind alter and calm. It can take from 5 minutes up to 20 or more minutes. It is a very calming and soothing way to relax your body and prepare for a test that may normally cause anxiety. It can also be an effective exercise to practice before studying. The next three slides include a progressive relaxation “script”
28 4. A Balanced LifeIt is important that you balance your academic life and the time you focus on studying with the other elements of your life.Take time to be with friends and family, exercise, take care of your spiritual and emotional needs.
29 Physical Health Eat good meals Drink plenty of water Exercise Relax Have funGet enough sleepStaying healthy will help you avoid illness and burn-out
30 Emotional Health Practice forgiveness of self and others Find something you are passionate aboutDo things that make you feel good about yourselfDevelop good friendshipsCommunicate feelings appropriatelyServe and support othersSeek help if you need to
31 Intellectual Health Spiritual Health Social Health Take time for quiet Find something you are interested in learning aboutRead and discussAdopt new learning strategiesDiversify what you learn aboutSpiritual HealthTake time for quietPractice faithSocial HealthLaughSeek time with people that make you feel goodTry new things
32 Counseling and Career Development Center Your academic Advisor If your anxiety interferes with your every day life, every day, seek help from a professional. Don’t be afraid to, because it can get better.Resources at GVSU:Counseling and Career Development CenterYour academic AdvisorThe Student Academic Success CenterTutoring/Instructional SupportStudy Skill CoachingAcademic Success Workshops