Test Anxiety - Overcoming the 3 Causes For Doing Poorly on Tests to Im
Aug 3, 2010 Study Skills 1899 Views
Countless students are frustrated by the fact that they do great on all their assignments and then when it comes to their tests, they blow it. They are frustrated, discouraged and beat themselves instead of understanding that this is a common phenomenon that CAN be overcome.
The first thing is to have a thorough understanding of the three major causes of Test Anxiety. Next, it is necessary to have a strategy for addressing the specific cause / causes that are holding you back.
Although this is the cause that most commonly gets the blame, it is NOT the greatest villain. Most students feel shame about poor test performance because they think it means that they are weak psychologically, choking when the pressure is on. But when you read on, you will discover two more powerful causes that may be in play.
If it does turn out that the Psychological factor is your biggest problem, then the best way to address it is with practice tests and visualization. By vividly imagining yourself doing great, whizzing through the test on test day, while you are completing a practice test, you can retrain your brain to be calm and confident instead of anxious. Having a number of successful practice tests is a very powerful way to curb test anxiety on test day.
This is an extremely powerful cause of poor test performance and most commonly overlooked. When a person is under stress, they begin to breathe less. Shallow breathing deprives the brain of oxygen and seriously hurts your ability to perform. (In extreme cases, this causes a person to faint.)
A great example of this is in studies that the Air Force did during World War II to determine the performance of pilots in high altitude environments. They found that very simple tasks, like dealing a deck of cards, became increasingly difficult as they got less oxygen. This happens by flying to higher altitudes, or it happens with shallow breathing brought on by anxiety. You actually cause yourself to be less sharp and resourceful by being nervous. Thus, the psychological cause can trigger a physiological problem!
The great news is that you can beat this with a technique the Army calls "combat breathing." Take 8 deep breaths, inhaling for three seconds through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Count to 3 while inhaling, hold it for 1 second, and count to 3 while exhaling. It will take you only 56 seconds to do this and you will oxygenate your blood to ensure that you are at full intellectual functioning! Do this before a test and even during a test and you will see a huge difference in your performance.
The third cause for poor test performance is the inability to recall what you studied because you didn't study using the correct method. Everyone learns and retains information differently. Some are visual learners who need to see things to remember them, others are auditory learners who do better hearing information, and still others are kinesthetic learners, who need to 'feel' and experience the subject matter.
By taking a Learning Styles Assessment, you can begin to understand how important it is to your test performance that you study in a way that is compatible with the way your are wired intellectually. A digital voice recorder is a great tool for auditory learners, and talking and joking in study groups really accelerates the learning and retention of kinesthetic learners.
Enroll in an ACT Prep course designed to address Test Anxiety, while being interesting and not so long and tedious that it is difficult to complete.