Exam Stress

Hi, I just signed up, and I was reading some posts and the advice is very helpful. I was wondering if anyone might have some pointers for me. I have a very hard time taking tests. I study for hours and hours and can know the material back and fourth but when I go to take the test I start to freak out and I am thinking to myself…I have to get an A, so that I can be ranked higher than the other 400 people in my bio class. I get more and more nervous and sometimes read over questions. And what I thought was an A turns out to be a C. I am constantly worried that everyone else is passing me up. My GPA is 3.4 but, I become so anxious when taking tests its beginning to hurt my scores. Its been like this ever since I transfered to the university from cc last semester. Please help!

A few things that might help. I would take as many practice tests as you can under the same timed conditions. Example: Pick a nice quite i.e. library and take a stopwatch with you.

If that does not work … Make sure you do not over caffeinate yourself before they exam. I did that once and my mind was going so fast, I could not concentrate on one thing.

One more thing to try … Sometime I take Valerian root. You can find it at Wal-Mart. It has a calming effect and still keeps you alert.

I have become a much worse test taker over the years, but lately have found one method really helps: to the prof’s practice test from the previous year BEFORE studying.

I use the test to get me thinking about the whole spectrum of topics on the first day. (In education terms, this helps “activate prior knowledge”, which is essential in learning new things). I use my text and notes to do the exam. Afterward, I re-do all the homework problem sets, using my notes, and on the last half day of studying, redo the practice test without notes.

Another thing to do is to try not to memorize unless where absolutely needed. Get into the material as much as you can. Redo problem sets over and over. And, importantly, minimize stress when you are studying. Stress inhibits you from learning.

I feel you. I get such bad test anxiety I think the last two years of pre-req taking may have taken a few months or so off my life! It’s gotten better though, and this semester has actually been gentler on my blood pressure while the grades have remained.

A) I try to brainwash myself into believing that I LOVE doing the problems in question, and just can’t wait to sit down and work on that test! (You know how sometimes when you’re doing homework, and listening to music, and cruising along, it can actually be really fun? I try to channel that on test day. This never really works, but it probably takes the edge off.)

B) Personally, I do better if I warm up first. I try to work on problems for about two hours on test day. That last hour before the test, I go for a walk.

c) Don’t, I repeat DON’T let yourself think about trying to get the highest grade in the class. That will simply make you go crazy.

D) Yeah, coffee is out. I’m a pretty heavy coffee drinker but I only have a very small cup before tests. On a mellow day, I can drink a bunch of coffee and just feel great - but when there’s an anxiety source, its like all that coffeeness which ordinarily would just make me feel alert and raring to go gets transformed directly into added anxiety.

E) Try experimenting with GABA supplements (available at any health food store). Naturally, you should read up on them first. They affect people differently, but I have found personally they function like a low grade benzodiazopene for approx. 1-2 hrs, and they don’t dope you up at all. After that I get restless - but you don’t need to worry about “after that,” once the test is done, it’s done.

Just some thoughts.

Thank you all so much, I have been using your advice and I also bought some GABA as well valerian root supplements, and they help with nervousness a lot! I have extremely bad ADHD and am prescribed adderall plus I was drinking like 2 red bulls a day and coffee, and not sleeping much. I am much calmer I now, I just took a bio lab final and I am happy to report it was a lot easier plus I got an A!

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