The TTU Counseling Center, in partnership with the Volpe Library, offered tips for managing test anxiety as its fourth student success workshop this semester.
Previous workshops included time management and using a syllabus, maintaining motivation and concentration while taking notes, and reviewing methods that could assist students in their academic success.
Cynthia Bryant, assistant director at the Counseling Center, hosted each workshop. She began the test anxiety workshop by instructing students on how to be mentally prepared for an exam, such as looking up the date of a final exam in advance.
Bryant said students may develop test anxiety because of their attitude as well as their parents’ attitudes about tests. Many students said their anxiety stems from pressure from their parents to achieve a high score.
Physical preparation was also considered to be an important area in reducing test anxiety. Adequate food and rest are believed to be part of a good study habit. According to the Academic Success Center at Oregon State University, when people are tired, they become frustrated more easily and experience more anxiety.
Bryant also stressed the importance of staying hydrated.
“Drink enough water,” said Bryant. “When you're dehydrated, you don't remember things as easily.”
According to research from the University of East London and the University of Westminster, just bringing a drink to the exam may boost performance.
The study, conducted by Chris Pawson proposed drinking water during an exam might relieve anxiety, which is known to reflect poor performance during a test.
Bryant said worrying only takes up test time and encouraged students to maintain a positive mindset.
“Tell yourself nice things. Write yourself a positive letter and read it before a test,” said Bryant. “You could read it before you study, too, because people tell themselves negative things even while they’re studying. Saying 'You can do it' may not make you ace the exam, but it does help you to relax.”
Ashley Carter, a Tennessee Tech nursing student, attended the text anxiety workshop.
“I think it is a good idea to write yourself a letter; it helps with your confidence,” said Carter. “You can read it before a test or anytime. It helps you reaffirm that you're smart.”
Thomas A. Richards, Ph. D., is a licensed psychologist and director of the Social Anxiety Institute. According to Richards, using positive affirmations often is a form of gentle conditioning. He believes brain chemistry actually changes as a result of new thinking habits.
Richards said statements such as, “I’ve done this before, so I know I can do it again,” or “This may seem hard now, but it will become easier over time,” are helpful to use when preparing for a stressful situation.
Austin Garcia, sophomore electrical engineering major, also attended the workshop.
Garcia said he hoped to get to the root of his test anxiety so he doesn’t repeat previous mistakes on his final exams. He believes the positive affirmations may help.
“A lot of times, your mind will play tricks on you,” said Garcia. “I think saying positive affirmations to yourself works like a placebo effect. It might work even if it is not real medicine. Having confidence helps you get through the test and even find out things you may not know.”