Sunday, January 27, 2013

Tazi's Corner #29 - Test Taking Tips To Conquer Anxiety

Dear Readers:

Welcome to another edition of Tazi's Corner, which is my opportunity to talk about what is on my mind! Last week, I offered success tips for returning students (which really could work for all students); this week, I continue where I left off by offering you Test Taking Tips To Conquer Anxiety!

You can know all of the answers, but if you freeze up during testing you will be unable to prove your knowledge! Test taking can cause anxiety in even the coolest cucumbers out there, so if you do freeze up over tests, don't feel alone, and don't feel like there is nothing you can do to control it!

With the exception of Math and math based classes like Physics, Engineering, and Chemistry (which I will cover last) there are three basic types of test questions. Remember, professors often have 100+ exams to correct, so they will usually give tests using the Scantron correcting system. To follow is a breakdown of each type of test you will most likely encounter using this system, and tips for conquering each!

The True or False Question
The good news is, you have a 50-50 chance of getting these questions right! The bad news is, the questions are often written in a way that makes you second guess yourself. Studies have shown that absolute statements – which are statements with words like “always” and “never” – are generally false, because a single exception makes the whole statement false. Words that modify a statement – like “most” and “usually” – allow for some wiggle room, but are generally easy to figure if you have studied the material.

The Multiple Choice Question
Also known as multiple guess among nervous students. My Mommie says that most professors she has had prepare multiple choice tests with four choices, two of which are obviously wrong to anyone who has paid even the slightest attention in class, leaving two similar choices from which to choose. At this point, if you don’t know the answer, you have a 50-50 shot of getting it right. Helpful Fact: The most common answer on a multiple choice test is “C” (or “3” if the choices are numerical).

A good way to reduce anxiety when taking a multiple choice test is to do it “Jeopardy!” style; read the answers to the question first, then read the question. When reading the answers, ask yourself what you know about each one, and then look at the question. This method mentally prepares you and has been shown to reduce anxiety and boost test scores.

The Essay Question
Oh, the dreaded essay question! It doesn't have to be a scary event! Essays are graded on many things – content, spelling and grammar, and how closely they stick to the topic at hand. Your teacher does not want the great American novel; just proof that you understand the material being taught.

An essay cannot be corrected through Scantron, so before you start rambling away in your blue book, take time to organize your thoughts because your professor will be reading them! Read the essay question, and think about what you know about the topic. If you have scrap paper, write down a few key ideas and number them in the order that best answers the question. Once your thoughts are organized, writing the essay will be that much easier. Most importantly, don’t try to "b.s." your way through an essay question – contrary to common belief, it will only hurt your grade. Professors can tell that you don’t understand the assignment, usually because you did not do the assigned reading from which the question was drawn.

Math (and math based) Questions

If possible, schedule your math classes at the time of day when your thinking is the clearest. Math requires concentration, and you cannot fully concentrate if you are tired. Math also requires energy to power your brain, so try not to eat a big meal before doing math. Digestion is an energy intensive process, and your body cannot digest a meal and solve quadratic equations at the same time! Just a little something my Mommie learned in her Human Anatomy class!

When it comes to math, story problems and other word problems generally throw a lot of people because they are looking for numbers and operations and not seeing any. The key to solving a story problem is reading comprehension. After reading through the full problem once, go back and read it again, this time pausing at all punctuation - every comma, semicolon, period, etc. - and reviewing up to that point. What information is being given? Are any numbers or operations mentioned? Write them down on your scrap paper! By the time you have finished re-reading the problem, you should have all the elements of the equation in front of you. Now work on solving it. If you are stuck on a math problem, skip it and go back to it when you have finished the other questions. Concentrating on it further will only cause further frustration and anxiety, not to mention waste your time; both will result in a lower grade.

In the end, regardless of what kind of test you are taking, if you find you are completely unable to concentrate because you are stuck, try this little exercise: Close your eyes, take a few deep, cleansing breaths, and literally push the test paper away from you. Exhale, open your eyes, and look at the test with a fresh perspective. The additional oxygen to your brain and the pushing away of what is upsetting you can work to refresh your brain. This tip can also work with other types of tests, too!

Good luck students! Next week I will be back to my regularly scheduled rants!


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

No comments:

Post a Comment