One of the top reasons why students do poorly on tests and exams is because of test anxiety and stress. Being stressed and going into an exam knowing that one will not do well is a one-way road to failure. According to Megan Harris, Academic Advising Coordinator for CASA at Colorado School of Mines, there are a few test taking strategies that can help cope with that anxiety before and during the test.
Always start to study early for tests. Cramming commits the brain to short term memory and will only prepare students for tests in the short run. For those final exams, students have a hard time recalling material learned a few months ago. In a recent exam strategy presentation given by Harris, she explains that the goal of studying is to be able to store information for long term memory and “use multisensory techniques, such as repetition, visual, and verbal so that the brain can retrieve information in different ways.” In addition, studying in groups can also be beneficial. Not only will the student benefit in learning something taught by another student, but the student can teach others as well, meaning they would repeat the concept learned, thus strengthening their understanding. In addition, repetition makes the brain more efficient at retrieving a certain memory or repeating an action when the time comes for recollection during a test. Finally, when feeling tired or unfocused while studying, take a quick break to relax your brain for about 30 minutes to keep yourself fresh to retain information again.
When a student is prepared going into a test and if he or she feels prepared, then the student is primed for success. During the test, make it visual by drawing pictures or diagrams of the concepts learned. This associates what the student remembers into a concept, so that he or she can clearly see what the concept a certain question is testing.
Test anxiety and stress comes from the lack of knowledge of the test. The strategies listed above can make students stress-free, so that they can “Stay Calm and Rock the Test”.