Test Anxiety & Test- Taking Tips. Ms. Taryn Richards Professional School Counselor Benjamin Banneker Middle School December 2012

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1 Test Anxiety & Test- Taking Tips Ms. Taryn Richards Professional School Counselor Benjamin Banneker Middle School December 2012

2 Workshop Outcomes: Parents and students will learn what test anxiety is. Parents and students will learn how to best prepare for tests. Parents and students will practice strategies for controlling test anxiety. Parents and students will learn specific test taking strategies.

3 Do you have test anxiety? T F I have a hard time starting to study for a test. T F When studying for an exam, I feel desperate or lost. T F When studying for an exam, I often feel bored and tired. T F I don t sleep well the night before an exam. T F My appetite changes the day of the exam. T F When taking an exam, I am often confused or suffer mental blocks. T F When taking an exam, I feel panicky and my palms get sweaty. T F I m usually in a bad mood after taking an exam. T F I usually score lower on exams than on papers, assignments, and projects. T F After an exam, I can remember things I couldn t recall during the exam.

4 How much stress is too much? Stress increases adrenaline which can help you study, however too much stress may lead to Test Anxiety: A psychological condition in which a person feels distress before, during, or after a test or exam to the point where stress causes poor performance.

5 Is stress getting in your way? Try these tips first: Be prepared Bounce bad vibes Pay attention to your health! Relax

6 Prepare, prepare, prepare! Pay attention, take good notes, study, complete HW, & review study materials EVERY DAY. Study a little bit each day. Leave sufficient time to study ahead of time so that you are well prepared for the test. Study with a friend and quiz each other. Pay attention to hints that the instructor may give about the test. Ask questions about items you may be confused about. Ask the instructor to specify the areas that will be emphasized on the test. Ask about the format of the test.

7 Bounce Bad Vibes Your own negative thoughts I ll never pass this exam can impact your performance. BREATHE & STOP! Repeat a reasonable affirmation to yourself like I know this stuff It s all about you! Don t compare yourself to other students Keep focused on your own work Approach the exam with confidence!

8 Talking Back to Boogie Talk Take some time to disarm your most frequent offenders. From the following list, select three negative thoughts that you have experienced (or write your own). I don t know anything. What s the matter with me? I should have studied more. I ll never make it through. I m going to be the last one done again. I must really be stupid. I m getting really tense again; my hands are shaking. I can t even hold the pen. I can t remember a thing. This always happens to me. I never do well on anything. My boogie statement How rational is this thought? Do you have any evidence that it is true? Reasonable reinforcing or affirmation statements you can use to replace it. Example: I m drawing a blank. I ll never get the answer I must really be stupid. I ve missed questions on things that I studied and knew before. I studied this and know it. I ll visualize where it s written in my notes to help me trigger my memory.

9 Pay attention to your health! Get a good night s sleep the night before a test! A healthy diet/regular exercise can help reduce stress Fresh fruits and vegetables are often recommended to reduce stress. Stressful foods can include processed foods, artificial sweeteners, carbonated soft drinks, chocolate, eggs, fried foods, junk foods, pork, red meat, sugar, white flour products, chips and similar snack foods, foods containing preservatives or heavy spices Eat before a test. Having food in your stomach will give you energy and help you focus but avoid heavy foods or high in sugar which can make you groggy or crash.

10 RELAX Stay-positive Use Self-talk Deep Breathing : Inhale slowly through your nose and feel your rib cage expand as you do. This will help oxygenate your blood and reenergize your mind. Visualize a pleasant place Brain Exercises

11 Deep Breathing Arms and hands are relaxed downward Body is relaxed Eyes closed Focus on lower abdomen (belly) and imagine a small balloon in that space Breath in slowly and deeply through nostrils, imagining the balloon inflating (getting bigger/larger/growing) slowly, hold a few seconds Slowly exhale through the mouth, imagining the balloon gently deflating (getting smaller, shrinking); blow out of the mouth as if blowing out a candle Tip: Place a hand over the lower abdomen to feel it go up and down, and make sure you re not breathing with the chest Repeat at least 5 times

12 Visualize a pleasant place Close your eyes. See in your mind s eye a beautiful beach. The sun is shining warmly, the breeze coming from the ocean is soft and warm, palm trees are overhead and a few seagulls circle about. Imagine walking barefoot in the warm sand, feel your feet sink in the sand with each step. Walk toward the water s edge and let the water roll over your feet. Jump in the water; it is warm, gentle and very refreshing. Come out of the water and walk to your big beach towel, lay down and relax. Rest for a while in all the peace and beauty surrounding you. Imagine how it looks, how it sounds, how it smells. Breathe in deeply the warm ocean air, stay as long as you like. When you are ready to leave, go to the edge of the water and throw in anything that has been bothering you, anything you wish to be rid of in your life, anything you are feeling sad or angry about, anything you worry about (e.g. problems at home, violence in your neighborhood, bullies, death of a loved one, issues with friends). Picture it as a big rock, a chain, a heavy bag over your shoulders, or any image that helps you see it as undesirable. Throw it in the ocean as far as you can. Watch it sink and get taken by the waves. When the visit is done, be thankful for the release of the burden, the problem, the worry; then walk peacefully back through the warm sand and take a rest on your beach towel.

13 Now that we are relaxed

14 Must-Use Test Taking Strategies 1) Directions!!!!!! Always read the directions before you get started. Then read them again. Underline key words in the directions that may help you. 2) Budget your time! Look over the entire test and note parts that may take longer. Do the questions you are sure of first, circle the more difficult ones and come back to them

15 Must-Use Test Taking Strategies 3) Jail the Details Highlight, underline, or circle the details in the questions. This helps you focus on exactly what the question is asking. 4) Be Slick and Predict Predict the answer BEFORE you read the choices.

16 Must-Use Test Taking Strategies 5) Slash the Trash Read ALL choices. Eliminate any choice(s) that you know is a wrong answer. Trash it! 6) Plug It in, Plug It In! Once you have chosen your answer, plug it in to make sure it makes sense.

17 Must-Use Test Taking Strategies 7) Be Smart with Charts The key unlocks the answers. Charts and maps provide information to answer questions. Analyze ALL information provided before answering questions

18 Must-Use Test Taking Strategies 8) Give Your Brain a Break If you panic- try deep breathing & self-talk Relax, Reflect, Refocus 9)Keep on Keeping On! Don t leave a question unanswered. You won t have any chance of getting it right. No guess=0% chance Eliminate one, then guess=33% chance Eliminate 2, then guess= 50% chance

19 Must-Use Test Taking Strategies 10) Show what you know For discussion or essay questions give as many details and examples that you can to show what you know. Brainstorm & jot your ideas down before you begin. 11) Check It Out! When you have completed the test, go back and check your work. Go the extra mile to reaffirm your answers.

20 Key Takeaways Some stress before a test or exam is common and beneficial. Test anxiety is stress that gets in the way of performing your best. The most common causes of test anxiety are lack of preparation and negative attitudes. The key to combating test anxiety is to try to reduce stressors to a manageable level rather than try to eliminate them completely.

21 REMEMBER Relax; you are in control. Take slow, deep breaths Don't think about the fear: Pause: think about the next step and keep on task, step by step Use positive reinforcement for yourself: Acknowledge that you have done, and are doing, your best Expect some anxiety: It's a reminder that you want to do your best and can provide energy. Just keep it manageable

22 Self-Application How can you best prepare for a test? What can you do to ease your stress/anxiety before a test? What are three test-taking strategies that you will apply?

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