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Exam Preparation Directorate of Counselling, Career & Academic Development email@example.com@unisa.ac.za | http://www.unisa.ac.za/counsellinghttp://www.unisa.ac.za/counselling
What is academic anxiety? Normal tension is essential for performance… Academic anxiety: type of fear, a nervousness or apprehension about any form of academic activity ▫Creates excessive tension
What causes academic anxiety? General Academic Anxiety ▫Attending group lectures/tutorials where you might have to answer questions or give oral presentations/participate in group discussions ▫Drafting and submitting assignments/reports Examination Anxiety ▫Exam preparation (studying) ▫Writing the exam
Symptoms of academic anxiety What do you experience when you’re anxious about your academic work?
Symptoms of academic anxiety Physical symptoms ▫Headache and/or muscle pains when studying/writing your exams ▫Excessive sweating (hands and face) ▫Fast or irregular breathing ▫Fast or irregular heartbeat ▫Overeating or lack of appetite ▫Disturbed sleeping patterns ▫Nervous physical reactions – facial muscular spasms, itching body, scratching face, restlessness ▫Nausea ▫Stomach problems – indigestion, diarrhoea, “butterflies” ▫Rapid and nervous speech, stuttering
Symptoms of academic anxiety Intellectual symptoms Problems remembering & recalling newly learnt material Problems with logical thinking and problem solving Difficulty in understanding simple instructions Inability to choose between 2 options Difficulty in concentrating during the exam Delayed thought processes and having to make a great effort to think Accelerated but inaccurate thought processes
Symptoms of academic anxiety Emotional symptoms Feelings of panic, especially when feeling that there’s not enough time to complete an exam Feeling inadequate, with negative thoughts such as: I’m a bad student, I’m stupid and worthless Thoughts of punishment and humiliation if you do badly in the exam Anxiety & concern about how well you’re doing compared to your fellow students Feelings of pessimism & hopelessness about the outcome of the exam Lack of confidence in your ability to answer a question
Effect of academic anxiety Results in poor academic performance ▫Overall ▫Exams You need to rid yourself of this negative anxiety, otherwise you will not be able to reach your full potential
How to deal with academic anxiety Physical symptoms – result of negative attitudes & thoughts Need to combat negative attitudes & thoughts But how? ▫Positive thinking ▫Physical relaxation
Positive Thinking Positive Statements: Often, negative statements have no foundation & are unrealistic So why should we listen to them? Replace negative statements with positive statements
Activity Write down any negative thoughts you have about the upcoming exams Which positive statements can you replace with these negative statements
Positive Thinking As soon as you find yourself starting a negative line of thought & becoming tense, say to yourself: “Stop it! I am playing with fire. I must start thinking more positively!” Practise this strategy as soon as you feel yourself becoming tense
Reward Use your successes to boost your confidence in academic activities Reward yourself for success with a positive statement E.g., after an exam: “Well done. Now I know that I can be successful, and that I am capable of doing well!”
Physical Relaxation The breathing technique The peaceful scene technique Progressive relaxation
The Breathing Technique Can be used in any stressful situation Lowers your level of tension & heartbeat I feel calm, refreshed and in control of myself
Time management is a set of principles, practices, skills, tools, and systems that work together to help you get more value out of your time
Why is it important? It is one of the top reasons why students drop out of university ▫They don’t know how to manage their time effectively – social life, studies, family life etc. Improve quality of life Reduce frustration, irritability, anger Reduce negative stress Gain a sense of accomplishment Have more time to do things you want to do Improve organization in your life Peace of Mind
The FACTS: Research shows that: “Procrastinators produce inferior work, contrary to beliefs that the best work is done under pressure.” (Tice and Baumeister, 1997) A study by Tuckman (2002), found that students who complete their work late or at the last minute are prone to say to themselves things like, ▫"I'm just waiting for the best time to do it" ▫"I know I can pull it out at the last minute" Students who indicated that they frequently tell themselves such things did relatively poorly.
The EFT Principle of Time Management EExploration60% FFixation30% TTesting10% An effective method of managing your time with regard to any activity (assignments, exams, work, etc.)
EFT Principle: EXPLORATION PHASE Explore 60% Fix 30% Test 10% Explore & gain information & knowledge about a topic Work through your curriculum Complete your assignments Do additional reading in the library Discuss your field of study with others in the field Contact fellow students to sort out problems Make summaries for intensive study later Identify questions you have to answer Identify & clarify difficult concepts
EFT Principle: TESTING PHASE Explore 60% Fix 30% Test 10% Asking yourself & answering questions which cover the study material Use the study material to formulate questions Use old exam questions to practice Have group study sessions Test yourself
Example: ▫If you start exams on the 19 th of October and you start studying tomorrow (28 th of August) … ▫You have got exactly 50 days to prepare for these exams! ▫How are you going to manage your time?
Applying the EFT Principle Explore 60% Fix 30% Test 10% Read Do assignments Group discussions Summaries Refine summaries Study - memorize Answer exam questions Have group sessions Check old papers 28 Aug 28 Sept 13 Oct 18 Oct
Questions: What does EFT stand for? How much of your time should be spent on each phase? What does one do in the Exploration Phase? What does one do in the Fixation Phase? What does one do in the Testing Phase?
Prepare Be mentally alert ▫set up a time table and make a commitment to study hard Be physically prepared ▫exercise, eat enough and get sufficient rest Learn to handle your stress ▫A positive attitude will help you to cope with exam anxiety. Start your revision at least a month in advance of the exam.
Prepare Stick to your time table ▫Study every day ▫Make time for other commitments. Arrange for study leave Contact your lecturers if you are unsure about aspects of your work Contact fellow students for peer support. Try to be so well prepared so that you can pack away your books the day before you write
Revise Set up your revision timetable ▫It is NOT a good idea to cram the night before you write. Definitely get sufficient sleep. Make sure that you have all your tutorial letters and check through them for guidance. Use the exercises in the study units as a way of examining your knowledge and understanding of the work.
Revise Revise your assignment answers and pay special attention to the comments of the lecturers. When revising, build up a framework of key words and phrases for all the study units and chapters. Consolidate your knowledge of study guides and associated textbooks by summarising the key concepts from headings and sub-headings on a single piece of paper.
Revise Look for questions when you study. Also set and answer your own questions by turning study objectives and headings into questions. Make sure that you know which format(s) of questions you need to deal with: e.g. multiple-choice questions, short questions, essay-type questions. In problem solving subjects such as Mathematics, Physics, Computer Science and Chemistry ensure that you can solve at least one of each of the types of problems found in every section or study unit.
Write Check on which day and at what time you write each paper. Be on time. Make sure that you have your student card and ID document. Don’t study new material just before you enter the hall; you will end up confusing yourself. Pay attention to the exam rules and instructions. Be positive and be yourself. Take a deep breath and focus on the task at hand.
Manage In the case of the essay-type exam, decide which ones to answer and mark those ones. Start with the question you know best. Analyse the question by underlining the key words. Plan your answer by making notes in the back of your exam answer book. Make sure that you know where to start and stop with the answer. It does not help to write down everything you know if that information does not answer the question. Plan the amount of time to spend on each question. Stay on schedule when answering!
Manage You must try to complete all the required questions. You have about a minute per question in a two- hour multiple-choice exam with 100 questions; one and a half minute if it is a three-hour exam. Remember to clearly indicated on the cover of your exam answer book which essay-type questions you have answered. Revise after you have finished writing and check for inadvertent mistakes.