Reduce Exam Anxiety
Steps to Taking Exams with Confidence
by Gregory Lloyd
Terrified of taking tests? Does your stomach tie
up in knots? Does your mind go blank? You're not alone. Many adults hesitate
to go back to college because they know there will be lots of tests, and
they find it difficult to face up to the challenge. It's perfectly normal
to feel that way. However, you can overcome your fear and look forward
to tests with complete confidence.
That's right. Whether you take classes on campus, through independent
study, or online, if you follow these ten steps you'll find that exams
are not such a huge obstacle after all.
1. Take organized notes.
Most students wait until the end of the semester to start their review.
Generally, they read and re-read their class notes word for word or go
back through their textbooks. This can be tedious, time consuming, and
not very effective. Try this instead. Begin preparing for your exams the
day you receive your course materials by reviewing the syllabus and scanning
the textbook. This will help you get a feel for what will be covered so
you don't get any surprises.
As you're reading your text and preparing your assignments each week,
focus on topics that are unfamiliar to you. Are certain points repeated
or explained more thoroughly than others? Highlight or underline only
the key words and phrases related to these points--not entire sentences.
Also keep an eye out for definitions, formulas, lists, and items that
are prominently featured.
After you've finished each assignment, grab your notebook and outline
the points you've learned (main points followed by supporting points in
words and phrases). Include examples to help you better retain the information.
Leave plenty of white space so that you can add notes later--either from
class or from later readings that pertain to the topics you've outlined.
Your aim is to keep notes on similar topics in a logical sequence and
avoid any duplication. If you have extra time, type your notes on a computer
to make them easy to read and reorganize if needed.
If you don't understand something, get help before you move on. Lessons
tend to build on one another, so you need to grasp the foundation material
first. If there's a topic that's giving you trouble, talk to your professor
or research the topic further at the library or on the Internet.
2. Transfer some of your notes to flash cards.
Studying in short time spurts is much more effective than reviewing in marathon
sessions. Make up a set of 3x5 index cards for terms and concepts you have
difficulty remembering. Include the term or concept on one side and the
definition or description on the other. Keep adding cards as your course
progresses and take them with you wherever you go. Then, whenever you have
a few minutes, pull out your cards and test yourself on them in random order.
Study actively by asking yourself questions on the material you don't know
As soon as you can, determine what type of test will be given. Multiple
choice, true or false, fill-in-the-blank, and essay are the most common.
(Most standardized tests are multiple choice.) If there's a practice test
available, take it without referring back to your notes. Mark the questions
you have difficulty with so that you know what areas you need to review