Education Views - June 2005

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Education Views

Getting Ready for Final Exams
by Barry H. Willen, Executive Director of Sylvan Learning Centers in Eldersburg and Westminster

The next few weeks will strain many students as they prepare for Finals Week. This is test anxiety, which affects many students, and could hinder their performance and hurt their grades. This is not a problem with learning, but a fear of having to prove, under pressure, what one has learned.

Test Anxiety

Even the brightest students face test anxiety at one time or another. Students may experience feelings of nervousness, panic, or being overwhelmed or unprepared. Test takers often forget information.

Why do students get test anxiety? Students may lack confidence, experience family and peer pressure, remember previous failures, and may simply be unprepared. Parents can help their children prepare for exams.

Test Anxiety Tips

These eight tips will help students overcome test anxiety and do better in school:

Make pressure positive. Use this nervous energy to work to your advantage. Concentrate on the test and not on your surroundings.

Give your brain a work out. Study as hard as an athlete would train for a competition. Studies have shown that the mind needs to "work out" to stay in shape, just like the physical body. Study for all tests.

Conceptualize, don't memorize. Learn material thoroughly. Don't memorize the material-- UNDERSTAND it! Memorization leads to nervousness. Knowledge leads to confidence.

Don't be overwhelmed. Break a large studying project into many smaller steps. Take one step at a time.

Zone in. Stay focused on your task. Don't become distracted while studying or taking the test.

Focus on the future. Learn from previous failures, but don't let them hinder your present performance.

Attack the test; don't let it attack you. Go for it. Do the easier questions first and save the harder ones for last. Remember to take your time. Taking a test is not a race.

Don't cheat. Don't cheat yourself and your future. Do all the hard work and reap in the rewards.

Apply these tips and you will do well on your finals.

This column is contributed by Barry H. Willen, Executive Director of Sylvan Learning Centers in Eldersburg and Westminster.

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