Test anxiety speaker comes to help NCC
By Barb Teed
Blank minds, sweaty palms, and sleepless nights could best describe some student’s preparations for tests.
“Every student has some test anxiety, it’s what motivates us to study,” Kristen Cooper told an audience of NCC students on Sept. 27 at the Mahendra Nath Career and Academic Planning Center’s workshop on test anxiety. “Your whole future doesn’t rest on one test. You need more positive self-talk,” she said.
Positive self-talk was one of several strategies Cooper, coordinator of the NCC TRIO/ Upward Bound program, suggested to students. “Attitude is very important in test anxiety,” she said. “Many students feel if they don’t do well on their test, they will flunk the course, never graduate and never get a job. Negative self-talk is a huge issue in test anxiety,” she said.
NCC student Sarah Isse came to the workshop to get some help preparing for her tests. “I need to learn how to cope because I have anxiety, “she said. “When I take the test I forget everything, not everything, but I go blank and I forget the simplest things.”
Cooper described what test anxiety is and what it is not. “Test anxiety is a mental distraction or not being able to concentrate on the test,” she said. “Sometimes test anxiety can have physical symptoms such as stomach aches, headaches or sweaty palms.”
Even mental blocks can affect how well a student does on a test, Cooper said. “During the test, anxiety just blocks everything,” she said.
Test anxiety is different from not preparing for the test, Cooper pointed out. “Cramming doesn’t work,” she said. “Study over a period of time, not the night before.” Some students don’t feel the need to study for a test because they feel they are such a great student as it is, Cooper said.
Reward yourself after the test is done, Cooper suggested. “Set up something
nice for yourself after your exam. Go to Java Junction and get a frothy drink or call and meet some friends,” she said.
Cooper demonstrated relaxation techniques students can do before the exam. “Tests are like competitions in the sports arena,” she said. “Athletes do relaxation techniques before they compete.”
Having a good breakfast and not using caffeine are two tips Cooper suggested on the day of the exam. “Studies show caffeine can make you more confused,” she said. “Arrive early and avoid students who are as anxious as you are.”
If you didn’t do well on your exam, don’t get stressed about it. Fear of failure
can cause test anxiety, Cooper said. “You think you screwed up last time, so now you’ll screw up again,” she said. Instead, Cooper feels a little of that positive self-talk helps even if you think you blew your exam. “Say to yourself, ‘I got through a test today’ and then follow up on your reward,” she said.
A bad test is not a reflection of who you are, Cooper pointed out. “You don’t have to be perfect, just do your best. Meet with the instructor afterward to go over your test,” she said. “Every instructor
Cooper suggested meeting with a NCC counselor to talk about test anxiety if it is causing lots of problems. NCC student Mike Thompson thinks the workshop will help him with future tests. “I didn’t do so well in my last couple of tests so I thought this would help. I will find out Friday when I have my Intro to U.S. Politics test.”