Top Ten Stress-Causing Test-Taking Traps You Must Avoid If
You Have Test Stress, This Is Why.
What have you tried in attempting
to get your test-taking stress under control? Maybe you have already
been through a study skills program to see if that would help your
test-taking anxiety. Clearly, a listening skills class or note-taking
course won't help you with test stress, and a time management or
personal organization course will only have minimal effect. These
skills, while worthwhile alone, don't directly address stress control.
You can be the greatest student, the smartest academically, but
if you don't get your stress under control, you just won't perform
to your potential on tests. This article examines the ten major
ways students create needles stress for themselves by violating
the psychological basics of preparation for test taking.
The Top Ten Stress-Causing Test-Taking Traps
You Must Avoid
If You Have Test Stress, This Is Why
Bill Cole, MS, MA
Founder and CEO
William B. Cole Consultants
Silicon Valley, California
What have you tried in attempting to get your
test-taking stress under control? Maybe you have already been through
a study skills program to see if that would help your test-taking
anxiety. Clearly, a listening skills class or note-taking course
won't help you with test stress, and a time management or personal
organization course will only have minimal effect. These skills,
while worthwhile alone, don't directly address stress control. You
can be the greatest student, the smartest academically, but if you
don't get your stress under control, you just won't perform to your
potential on tests.
This article examines the ten major ways students create needles
stress for themselves by violating the psychological basics of preparation
for test taking.
- Cramming At The Last Minute, And Then Being Surprised:
Some students use cramming as their go-to study strategy. I suggest
you ask someone using this as to how much material they retain
past the test. If this works for you, great, but if you study
last-minute, there always seems to be a sudden surprise when you
can't find certain material, or you learn of some new last-minute
content you must suddenly master, that you forgot about. That
causes some real stress.
- Simply Reading Your Notes Without Testing Your Understanding:
Reading and reviewing is better than ignoring your material, but
it is far, far better to test yourself. Otherwise, how will you
gauge how effective your study program is for you?
- Not Performing Any Practice Tests: This is such a basic
that it is surprising that some students still don't do this.
You absolutely must simulate the pressures you will feel once
in the actual test, in advance. That is the only way you will
be able to devise strategies to deal effectively with them.
- Not Timing Yourself On Practice Tests: A common problem
students create needlessly is failing to complete practice tests
under the same testing conditions that they will face once in
the actual exam. This is a must in order to create the stressful
feelings in practice you need to come to terms with, and handle.
- Not Having Solid Test-Taking Strategies: If you do not
understand test psychology and test construction methods teachers
use, and how to manage these factors, you will feel out of control
and simply unable to take charge of your test-taking.
- Not Preparing Mentally: Students that wake up, or come
immediately from another activity, run into the testing room and
expect to test well are sadly mistaken. Your mind needs to pre-focus
on what is to come if you hope to concentrate and use your mental
faculties to their utmost.
- Not Having Tried And True Stress Control Methods: The
best students have a toolkit of stress management techniques at
their command. Some students have never had any formal training
in stress control, but know how to instinctively relax. No matter
how you do it, you need to handle the stress that is inherent
- Taking The Test Too Lightly: If you think the test is
no big deal, you won't prepare properly. You'll get in the test,
be surprised at its difficulty, and panic.
- Taking The Test Too Seriously: There is no single test
that will change your life, for better or worse. Almost all tests
can be retaken and improved upon. If you go into a test thinking
it's "Do or Die", you'll add needless pressure, and choke.
- Allowing Panic And Fear To Take Over: Many students
operate on an avoidance basis in studying. They refuse to put
time into what will make them feel secure, and instead simply
arrange their study time so they do things that make them "feel
good". To feel confident going into the test, and to keep feelings
of panic at bay once in the exam room, you need an intelligent
set of strategies of how to study so the panic can never get a
hold of you.
Now you know why your fear and panic kicks in
during a test for which you did not prepare well. It really is very
logical. If you don't prepare correctly, and manage your stress
in advance, you probably will become very nervous and perform badly
once in the test. Remember, no one prepares to fail on purpose,
but many people fail to prepare, and ultimately, those outcomes
are really the same. I want you to succeed. To do that you need
a stress and anxiety control program for test taking. Let me help
you learn these skills so you can go into your tests feeling calm,
confident and expecting to succeed.
Knowing about educational psychology and being test savvy
is certainly an important part of being a good student, but top students who
get consistently high grades also have a knowledge base and applied skills in
stress control and peak performance. You need to know how to manage your mind,
calm your emotions and relax your body so you can get into the “test zone”,
that powerful, deeply focused mind-body state that gives you excellent recall,
mental alertness and clarity. You need to learn these skills and become mentally
tough so you can handle the extreme pressures of academia. Other mental skills
training you need are visualization, confidence-building, mental readiness training
and motivation skills.
To learn this set of mental toughness, zone, and stress control skills, sign up for our special Test Anxiety Stress Reduction Program. You can also take this no-cost assessment of your test-taking skills.
Bill Cole, MS, MA. All rights reserved.
Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority
on peak performance, mental toughness and coaching, is founder and
CEO of William B. Cole Consultants, a consulting firm that helps
organizations and professionals achieve more success in business,
life and sports. He is also the Founder and President of the International
Mental Game Coaching Association (www.mentalgamecoaching.com),
an organization dedicated to advancing the research, development,
professionalism and growth of mental game coaching worldwide. He
is a multiple Hall-Of-Fame honoree as an athlete, coach and school
alumnus, an award-winning scholar-athlete, published book author
and articles author, and has coached at the highest levels of major-league
pro sports, big-time college athletics and corporate America. For
a free, extensive article archive, or for questions and comments
visit him at www.MentalGameCoach.com.
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