Tips for dealing with test anxiety

By sbofill on Monday, March, 12th, 2012 in ACT, regents, SAT, test anxiety, testprep.
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For many students, the end of the school year brings a combination of excitement and anxiety. As the days grow warmer, students look forward to their two-month summer break.  But, before fleeing to the beaches or to summer camp, they must first pass their finals, Regents exams, and, perhaps, take the SATs and ACTs. School can be stressful enough without the added pressure of standardized exams, but test anxiety is becoming increasingly widespread in our test-obsessed age of accountability.
According to the Penn State University Learning Center, symptoms of test anxiety can include insomnia, loss of appetite, panic, confusion, hopelessness, anger, and depression.
There are ways of dealing with these symptoms. Georgetown University’s Counseling and Psychiatric Service website lists helpful tips for reducing test anxiety. Before the exam, students should get a good night’s sleep, eat a modest meal, avoid other students who are stressed, and arrive early for the test.  During the exam, students might consider budgeting their time wisely, answering the easiest questions first, and making a brief outline of ideas.
In addition, Georgetown psychologist Wayne Hurr recommends relaxation techniques.  He writes, “If your mind is blocked by tension during an exam, close your eyes, take a long, deep breath, and then let it out slowly. Concentrate on your breathing and actually feel or hear yourself breathe. Don’t allow yourself to worry about the time, test, or tension.  Repeat this twice, then return to the test.”
Finally, researchers at the universities of Colorado and Chicago have found that writing down feelings shortly before an exam can reduce test anxiety and improve exam scores.  Perhaps students should jot down some of their summer vacation plans to help offset the stress!
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