Presentation on theme: "Strategies for Stress Reduction and Better Test Performance"— Presentation transcript:
1 Strategies for Stress Reduction and Better Test Performance A Connect to Success PresentationManaging Test AnxietyDo 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?If these, or similar experiences, ring true for you we are glad you have joined us for this workshop. We think you will find the information very helpful.Strategies for Stress Reduction and Better Test Performance
2 What is Anxiety?A physiological and psychological response to a perceived danger or threat Two types of test anxiety Anticipatory: Felt when thinking about and/or studying for a test Situational: Felt while taking a testSo what is anxiety anyway? There is one very important word in this definition, and that word is PERCEIVED. Something is stressful if an individual perceives it to be so.
4 Anxiety Symptoms Physiological: Psychological: Upset stomach Confusion Restlessness Memory blocksSleep problems IrritabilityMuscle tension Impaired concentrationHeadaches Poor judgmentBack pain FrustrationWhen an individual perceives an exam to be a “danger or a threat” (“Something I might fail!”), these are some of the symptoms they may experience. These can undermine one’s ability to perform in a test situation.
5 More symptoms Head feels like it’s in a clamp. Stomach hurts. Muscles tenseBlood pressure risesStress hormones are released…Head feels like it’s in a clamp.Stomach hurts.Sweating.I studied this stuff yesterday, why can’t I remember?Can’t think!I know the answers both before and after the test, but not while taking the test!
8 Assess YourselfCalm Very anxious _________________________________________As you think about your experience with test anxiety, what “score” would you give yourself?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, if not all of the symptoms listed on the previous slide.A 1 would mean that you have a sense of calm and confidence about test taking. You may feel a little nervous before an exam (which is normal), but you have strategies to manage your stress.So where do you currently score? Write down that number. Let’s say that you assessed yourself to have a score of 8. After you complete this workshop and try out some of the strategies, we want you to set a goal to move from a 6 to 5 to 4, etc by your next exam. That’s right… not a 10 or a 9. Allow yourself some time to make these changes in your life.
9 What causes test anxiety? Lack of preparation!Past experiences of blanking out or performing badly on exams.Focusing too much on the outcome.Focusing too much on how other classmates and friends are doing.Issues outside of school distracting you from studying for or concentrating on exam.
10 Separate lack of preparation with test anxiety. If you spent the previous night cramming material, or even started studying the day before, you are NOT prepared.When you study like that, you are creating a short-term memory, not storing the material.It is very difficult retrieve material youhaven’t stored.You should study at least a week in advance of the exam!
11 Understanding Stress Learn to understand the stress response Stress is not something we can avoidStress is a response to any physical, emotional, psychological, or intellectual demand that requires a readjustment of the individual in some way.Stress is a fact of life.
12 When you’re in a situation that you perceive to be stressful your brain will switches to a fight or flight mode.It releases adrenaline and nonadrenaline, the Hormonal system releases.The response is both physical and emotional
13 The Stress Response Say you encounter a bear in the forest… As a result of seeing this bear, your body prepares for fleeing from it:your heart rate goes up,your lungs start breathing faster,you are (understandably) very nervousyou have dry mouth.Your brain stops working, because its already told your body to RUN and now it can turn itself off in preparation for flight.
14 Remember how we said that “Stress is a fact of life?” Stress can be a good thing…in fact, some stress is a necessary thing for success.
15 Three approaches to managing test anxiety Efficient Study TechniquesCognitive Restructuring (negative self-talk to positive)Relaxation TechniquesThere are several ways to approach the problem of test anxiety. We have chosen three strategies that we feel are most effective. Let’s now take a closer look at each strategy…
16 Cognitive Restructuring Changing the way we think –Changing the things we dwell onThe first approach in combating test anxiety is to examine how you talk to yourself. “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. Restructured self-talk, when properly implemented, can be one of the most powerful tools for managing test anxiety.Now take a moment and consider the thoughts that are going through your mind before an exam. How do these anxious thoughts get there in the first place?
17 Negative Self-Talk Traps Previous Problems with Test PerformanceFear of ExposureFocusing on the Grade vs. Learning the MaterielAll – Or – Nothing ThinkingSelf-LabelingA seed of negative self-talk can be planted as a result of fear, a bad experience, or misdirected motivation. Which of these problems do you identify with?#1. Fear of repeating a previous bad experience can be debilitating. You might be saying something like this to yourself: “Remember when you thought you did well on that test and yet scored a D? That is going to happen again!”#2. Some people have a fear that others will find out that they are not as “smart” as they thought they were. You may be thinking, “I fooled everyone into thinking that I am smart, but I’m not. This time I will really screw up and they will find out that I am not so smart.”#3. If your primary focus is to get a good grade rather than learn the material the pressure of this focus can undermine your ability to perform on an exam. The threat is the message, “I am less than valuable if I don’t get a good grade!” (By the way—these students are often very frustrating to teach because they are always focused on what will be on the test rather than what they should be learning.)#4. People with this type of thinking see things in black-or-white categories. If they receive anything less than an A they see the test as a total failure.#5. Labeling occurs when one goes from “I am having problem with this content area” to “I am stupid” or “I am a total loser”.We 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.
18 More Negative Self-Talk Well, you’ve waited ‘til the day before the exam because you’ve said to yourself,“I can only study when I feel energized and now I feel really energized. But, since I’ve waited so long, I’m not sure I can do very well because I may not have enough time to study everything.”“And, since I may not have enough time to study everything, it might be that what I study won’t be on the test and what I don’t study may be on the test.”
19 And More Negative Self-Talk…. I always panic and my mind goes blankWhat if I really bomb the exam?What if I just freeze?When I can’t answer the first question, I panicIf I don’t pass this test, it means I’m stupidIf I don’t pass this test, I’ll flunk the classIf I flunk the class, I’ll flunk outof college.
20 Now, instead of actually studying, you close your eyes and picture yourself going to the exam, full of dread, knowing that you don’t know. You see yourself sitting in the desk as the test papers get passed back. You can clearly see yourself looking at the top page of the exam and blanking out completely.And you rehearse this over and over again
21 What you think will happen has a dramatic and often direct effect So, you go to class the next day, full of dread and when the test hits your desk, you look down at the first page and blank out.No surprise here. You have just demonstrated the power of positive thinking!What you think will happen has adramatic and often direct effecton how you behave.
22 What you see is what you get! Each time you imagine something or ask yourself questions, or make statements to yourself, a part of you hears each of these as a suggestion for action.Remember how you get good at things - practice, practice, practice.If you practice how awful you will perform, it is likely that that is how you will act.
23 Take responsibility for yourself We are solely responsible for ourchoices, and we haveto accept the consequencesof every deed, word, andthought throughout our lifetime.
24 Things to dwell on…………..I have done what I could, now I am going to do my bestI have a choice as to how I perceive this situationWill I remember this in 10 years?There is more to life.“Life is not a problem to be solved,but a reality to be experienced.”Do you agree with these statements? Are you ready to make changes in the way you “talk” to yourself? We recommend that you actually write down a few encouraging messages, quotes or verses that encourage you to think with a rational and positive perspective. Read these often. Bring them to the exam and read them before you go in. Remember that some of those old negative messages have been a part of your thinking for a long time. It will take some effort and repetition to maintain a new perspective.
25 Learn to Relax Deep breathing (adds oxygen to the brain) Inhale for slow count of 6. Exhale for slow count of 8Think of breathing in peace with each inhale. Visualize blowing out tension, negativity with each exhale.The second strategy you might find helpful is relaxation. Take a few moments to try this deep breathing exercise. As you inhale to the slow count of 6 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 tests. Not only do our bodies relax when we practice deep breathing, but our brains work much better with sufficient oxygen!
26 Progressive Relaxation Take a Mind Vacation… visualize yourself ina wonderful place.Progressive Relaxation is an exercise whereby one slowly and methodically relaxes each muscle in their body while keeping the mind alert and calm. It can take from 5 minutes up to 20 or more minutes. It is a very calming and soothing way to relax the body and prepare for a test that may normally cause anxiousness. It can also be an effective exercise to practice before studying. The next slide is a progressive relaxation “script”.
27 Progressive Relaxation Exercise Here is the Progressive Relaxation Exercise:Take a deep breath – completely fill your lungs. Now release as much air as you can. Repeat this three times. Now focus on your toes. One by one, relax each toe. Take your time. Allow each muscle in your foot to relax as you allow this warm sensation of relaxation to move through your foot and to your ankle.\Notice how you are breathing deeply, and with each exhale a little more tension is released from your body.You can print this out and read it into a tape recorder. Play it back when you want to experience deep relaxation.One by one, relax each toe. Take your time. Allow each muscle in your foot to relax as you allow this warm sensation of relaxation to move through your foot and to your ankle.Notice how you are breathing deeply, and with each exhale a little more tension is released from your body. Your mind is very alert, but your body is starting to relax.
28 Progressive Relaxation Cont’d Now allow the warm sense of calm to gently move up your legs. Slowly allow each muscle.Now allow the warm sense of calm to gently move up your legs. Slowly allow each muscle in your calf to relax. Notice how this relaxation now moves up through your knee to the major muscles groups in your thighs. This now slowly works through your hips and then carefully moves into your back. Allow the relaxation to travel up your spine, one vertebrae at a time. At the same time allow the relaxation to travel up the front of your torso. When you arrive at your shoulders notice the relaxation making its way down each arm and slowly through each finger.
29 Progressive Relaxation Now focus on the base of your neck and allow the calm, warm sense of relaxation to move up the back of your neck, slowly up over the top of your scalp and finally relax your forehead, ears, eye lids, nose, lips, and jaw.Notice how your breathing deeply and a great sense of relaxation, focus and calm has taken over your body and mind.Now is a great time to take a couple of deep breaths and begin to study, or take an exam. Best wishes to you.Now focus on the base of your neck and allow the calm, warm sense of relaxation to move up the back of your neck, slowly up over the top of your scalp and finally relax your forehead, ears, eye lids, nose, lips, and jaw.Notice how your breathing deeply and a great sense of relaxation, focus and calm has taken over your body and mind.Now is a great time to take a couple of deep breaths and begin to study, or take an exam. Best wishes to you.
30 Tips for Doing Relaxation Set aside 30 – 45 minutesNOT after a mealQuiet, distraction-free environmentDim lightsWarm temperatureLoose clothingLie down or sit in a comfortable chair
31 Benefits of Relaxation Physiological EffectsRelaxation of skeletal muscles generalized to smooth musclesEffective in treating migraine and tension headachesEffective in treating backachesPsychological EffectsIncreases self-concept and self-esteemReduces anxietyReduces depressionHelps insomniacs sleep
32 Use Efficient Study Strategies! Study SMARTERMany students are having test anxiety for good reason… they are not prepared! Another excellent way to combat anxiety is to practice efficient study strategies. One of the most effective ways to start is by implementing the Continuous Process of Learning. It is all about studying SMARTER.
33 Review material effectively and often throughout the semester. Conduct review sessions 10 minutes a day for each class. Seeing, hearing, or interacting with the class material often will help you remember it.-Study in short spurts (an hour or less) and take breaks, rather that studying straight through for several hours.-Aim for understanding the material, not just memorizingMany students are having test anxiety for good reason… they are not prepared! Another excellent way to combat anxiety is to practice efficient study strategies. One of the most effective ways to start is by implementing the Continuous Process of Learning. It is all about studying SMARTER.
34 The Curve of Forgetting illustrates why cramming for any exam is not the smartest way to study Many students are having test anxiety for good reason… they are not prepared! Another excellent way to combat anxiety is to practice efficient study strategies. One of the most effective ways to start is by implementing the Continuous Process of Learning. It is all about studying SMARTER.
35 Within 24 hours of the lecture, if you spend ten minutes reviewing–rewriting your notes, rereading the text for example—you can raise the curve to almost 100% again (the orange line in the above graph). On Day 7 it will take you only five minutes to recall the information, again raising the curve to almost 100%. If you review every week, by Day 30 it will take your brain only two to four minutes to report back the information.
36 Do you have that much time to devote to cramming for the test? Think you don’t have time to review every day? I would tell you that you can’t afford not to review every day, for without reviewing frequently, you’ll need to spend 40 – 50 minutes re-learning each hour of lecture notes. Do the math. Do you have that much time to devote to cramming for the test?What can it hurt to try a new method?If you continue with the same habits, you will have the same results.
37 Prepare well in advance Don’t go without sleep the night beforeStop studying an hour or so before the test and relax and compose yourselfAvoid speaking with any fellow studentsWho have not preparedWho express negativityWho will distract your preparationTalking about the test raises your anxiety
38 Tips for In and Out of Class Meet your teacher. Attend office hours.Attend class regularlyTake careful notesGet the names and phone numbers of some people in your class.Form/join a study group.Talk with your advisorSchedule free tutoringHere are some general tips for how to be a better student. How many of them have you incorporated into your study life?
39 Visit the Student Success Center 507-433-0356 Free TutoringStudy GroupsOrganization TipsTime management toolsStudy Skill AdvisingDisability ServicesMore…..We all need a little help now and thenHere are a few other services on campus that you may want to check into.
40 Your best advocate can be….. Don’t let anxiety take over your tests get in the way of your success. Many people have experienced severe test anxiety, and have used the strategies presented in this workshop to make significant changes in their test taking experience. Make a decision that you will make some changes in the way you think and study. You will be surprised at what a difference these strategies can make.Best wishes to you!