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studying. You may have difficulty learning and remembering what you need to know for the test.  Further, too much anxiety may block your
performance during the test. You may have difficulty demonstrating what you know during the test.

How do i know if i have test anxiety?
You probably have test anxiety if you answer YES to four or more of the following:

  • I have a hard time getting started studying for a test.
  • When studying for a test, I find many things that distract me.
  • I expect to do poorly on a test no matter how much or how hard I study.
  • I experience physical discomfort:  sweaty palms, upset stomach, headache, difficulty breathing, tension in my muscles.
  • When taking a test, I find it difficult to understand the directions and questions.
  • When taking a test, I have difficulty organizing my thoughts.
  • When taking a test, I often “draw a blank.”
  • When taking a test, I find my mind wandering to other things.
  • I usually score lower on a test than I do on assignments and papers.
  • After a test, I remember information I couldn't’t recall during the test.

What can I do about test anxiety?
Here are some things you can do before, during, and after a test to reduce your test anxiety.

  • Use good study techniques to gain cognitive mastery of the material that will be covered on the test.  This mastery will help you to approach
    the test with confidence rather than have excessive anxiety.
  • Maintain a positive attitude as you study.  Think about doing well, not failing.  Think of the test as an opportunity to show how much you have
    learned.
  • Go into the test well rested and well fed.  Get enough sleep the night before the test.  Eat a light and nutritious meal before the test.  Stay
    away from junk foods.
  • Stay relaxed during the test.  Taking slow, deep breaths can help.  Focus on positive self-statements such as “I can do this.”
  • Follow a plan for taking the test such as the DETER strategy described below. Don’t panic even if you find the test difficult.   Stay with your
    plan!
  • Don’t worry about other students finishing the test before you do.  Take the time that you need to do your best.
  • Once you finish the test and hand it in, forget about it temporarily.  There is nothing more you can do until the graded test is returned to you.  
    Turn your attention and effort to new assignments and tests.
  • When the graded test is returned to you, analyze it to see how you could have done better.  Learn from your mistakes and from what you did
    well. Apply this knowledge when you take the next test.
  • You have to know the material to do well on a test.  You have to control test anxiety to show what you know.


THE DETER STRATEGY FOR TAKING TESTS

To do well on a test, you must have good knowledge of the information that is being tested. But you must also have a strategy for taking the test
that allows you to show what you know. The DETER strategy can help you do your best on any test. Each letter in DETER reminds you what to do.

D = Directions
  • Read the test directions very carefully.
  • Ask your teacher to explain anything about the test directions you do not understand.
  • Only by following the directions can you achieve a good score on the test.
  • If you do not follow the directions, you will not be able to demonstrate what you know.

E = Examine
  • Examine the entire test to see how much you have to do.
  • Only by knowing the entire task can you break it down into manageable parts.

T = Time
  • Once you have examined the entire test, decide how much time you will spend on each item.   
  • Plan to spend the most time on the items that count for the most points.
  • Avoid spending so much time on one item that you have little time left for other test items.

E = Easiest
  • Answer the items you find easiest first.
  • If you get stuck on a difficult item that comes up early in the test, you may not get to answer items that test things you know.

R = Review
  • If you have planned your time correctly, you will have time to review your answers and make them as complete and accurate as possible.
  • Also make sure to review the test directions to be certain you have answered all items required.


THE 5 "A'S" FOR MANAGING EXAM STRESS

  1. Acknowledge the stress and strain because everyone faces it. In everyday life, stress manifests as mental or physical tension, which you
    would rather not have, recognize stress as inevitable.
  2. Appreciate what causes your stress. Then, instead of blaming yourself or failing of cope; you end up pinpointing the real problem and
    tackling that.
  3. Alleviate the pressures by resorting to simple stress-busting techniques. Perhaps you have a calming visual to look at when you need a
    mental escape from your surrounding. Or you may relax your muscle before you go to sleep.
  4. Alter your lifestyle is the next step towards Exam Stress. Once you've seen the benefits of relaxation, it will encourage you to develop more
    permanent ways of reducing stress. If stress continues to be persistent, either you haven't tried the major stress alleviating formulae or
    alternately your haven't kept them up long enough to deliver the needed result.
  5. Avoiding is the last step.  It is the toughest but also the most beneficial. You have to start avoiding stress building habits and burnouts.
    Avoid smoking - a serious stress builder exercise briefly but regularly, make an effort to maintaining a normal weight, eat regular balanced
    meals and get adequate sleep.


MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON EXAMS

How do I deal with exam related stress?
Recognize your negative thoughts. Once you closely examine these thoughts you'll see how unrealistic they are. Challenge the thoughts that say
you are a failure and that you can't succeed. Remind yourself that it was just another exam and with effort, you will do better in your next attempt.

What if I do badly?
Replace self-criticism with self - correction. Judging yourself harshly now won't help you do better in the future. Take the position of an observer.
What if a good friend told you he had failed? Would you call him a failure ? most probably you would emphasize his good points and help him put
the situation in perspective.

How do I deal with my family's disappointment if my result is not good?
Be open and honest with them. Share what you feel about the result and what you think went wrong. Reassure them of your concern and efforts.
Above all, do not have a negative bias against your parents because some times they need more reassuring than you do.

What if I don't get the marks I'm expecting?
Concentrate on your achievements and be realistic about your expectations as well. Usually we know when we have made a mistake, so take
these into account while drawing up expected marks. If you are still dissatisfied with the results, the option of rechecking is always open.

We have heard of irregularities in the assessment system. What if my marks are adversely affected?
Have faith in the system. There will always be rumours about unfair checking, but one cannot ignore the fact that results over all these years have
more often than not, been fair.

I think there is too much pressure can't cope with it.
Take professional help. If you feel that there is pressure and you are unable to handle it and your self-esteem is coming down and you are unable
to cope, then you must consult a psychologist to help you tide over this phase.   Contact us on jmd@dannerup.com or 011 888 1110 for
assistance.

Everyone tells me to concentrate on my studies.
Don't stop enjoying life. One of the common mistakes an individual makes is to totally change his/her lifestyle during exams. This is under the
assumption that if s/he isolates him/herself from all leisure and fun times with friends and family and only study, then s/he will do better.

How much sleep is required?
The human body requires an average of 8 hours of sleep per day but there is no hard and fast rule. Each one of us has to understand our body
rhythm and know by trial and error how many hours of sleep keeps us fit.

What happens if we sleep less than what our body requires?
If you sleep less for a day or two your body copes up by taking more sleep over next two days. If continued for long then the body gets into what is
known as sleep debt. Then you get symptoms of feeling tired and sleepy, headaches, body aches, poor digestion, inability to concentrate,
irritability, short-temperedness etc.

Should I study in the morning or at night?
First understand whether you are an owl or a lark. IF you can get up early in the morning and feel fresh then you must sleep early and get up early
and study. If on the other hand you can study later at night but cannot feel fresh when you get up early to study then you must sleep late after
studying and get up later in the morning.

How to get good night sleep?
Try to keep a fixed time every night for sleeping as far as possible Avoid afternoon prolonged sleeping, a short nap may be helpful. One hour
before bedtime avoid stimulating your sensory system by too much noise like loud music, too much TV, arguments or fights. Three hours before
sleep time avoid taking any food or liquids, which contain caffeine, like aerated cold drinks, drinks containing chocolate.

To keep awake for studying learners drink lots of coffee. What is the harm?
Caffeine in small doses acts as a stimulant and keeps you awake, so a cup once a day may be OK.  Excessive coffee drinking gives side effects
like tremors, fast pulse rate, irritability and stomach pain. Coffee also causes addiction.

Why exercise during exam time?
Most learners/students will say they have no time for exercise during exam days. They are already stressed out with lack of time how can they
waste time in exercise? The fact is that exercise is all the more necessary during exam time because not only is it a " stress buster" but also has
many other health benefits needed to keep fit during exam.

What are the various forms of exercise?
Aerobic exercise running, jogging, swimming and specific aerobic exercises like strength training, lifting weights and working on machines.
Resistance or strength training increase lean body mass which includes muscles, these in turn burn more energy daily as compared to fat mass,
more muscles means more strength and Add helps to tone muscles and improve endurance. It reduces risk of osteoporosis so makes our
bones very strong. Exercise increases co-ordination and reduces risk of injuries resulting from weak muscles.

How does exercise help?
Regular aerobic exercise (Swimming, bicycling, jogging ) improves the function of our cardiovascular system. This makes the circulation better,
the lungs process oxygen more effectively so you have less exertion. Heart pumps blood with fewer heart beats (the athletes pulse is always slow)
it stimulates the growth of capillaries that increase blood supply hence better oxygenation to muscles. All this makes your body more efficient and
give your more endurance capacity giving you more stamina for working so that you can sit longer hours without discomfort. This will make you
study harder and better.

How does exercise help you be better mentally?
Regular aerobic exercise releases some good chemicals in our body. These are called endorphins. These make you feel happy. They counter the
effect of streets, depression and anxiety that all students suffer from during exam time. So after exercising you get a "Natural kick " which is longer
lasting and safe unlike drugs or stimulants like caffeine. It also helps you in weight loss and that will make you feel good about your self.

Diet During exams:
Diet is very important during teenage years, improper diet will lead to poor growth and vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

If you miss breakfast, by the time you have lunch nearly 10+12 hours have gone by after your last meal. This means your blood sugar level has
gone and you have nothing to provide your body with energy. This low blood sugar or hypoglycemia causes short term memory problems, difficulty
in concentration problem solving.  

DO NOT MISS LUNCH if you do so your blood sugar level will again dip down and you will have all symptoms of hypoglycemia and will not be able
to perform after lunch hours. You will be also be very fatigued by the time you come home and will not be able to study in the evening.

DO NOT HAVE A VERY HEAVY DINNER, you will feel very heavy and sleepy and will not be able to study well.
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JMDpsych: Managing Exam Stress
Managing Exam Stress