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Tom Siebold

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Coping With Tests

Youíve probably experienced test dread: sweaty palms, rapid heartbeat, the desire to run away, and, the worst of all, that feeling that something awful is about to happen to you.  What kind of devious and devilish monster dreams up this kind of torment?  Is there no remedy?

Unfortunately there is no magical cure but below are some things that you can do to help.

1. Preparation.  This is the backbone of successful test taking.  This does not mean cramming the night before the test; it is more than that.  It is preparation throughout the course, including good note taking, careful reading, and regular reviews of the material.  If you are prepared leading up to test time, the humble suggestions that follow will seem almost second nature.

2. Subject Lists.  As test time approaches make an effort to consolidate your notes.  Although there are many ways to do this, you may want to start by making a subject list.  This is simply a listing of the main topics covered in the course.  Make one list from your class notes and another from you textbook notes.  Compare the two lists to discover overlapping and similar content. More than likely this is testable stuff.

3. Notes Outline.  In order to provide yourself a study framework, write a notes outline.  This is a simple outline of key concepts.  This outline will serve as a study roadmap on which you can plug in important details, data, and ideas.

4. The Mini Lecture.  As you study your notes and reading material imagine that you are the instructor and present a lecture to an imaginary class of students (follow your notes outline).  At regular intervals check your accuracy by looking at your notes or your text (your imaginary students will wait patiently for you.)

5. Study Cards. When you find things that you feel are likely to be on the test, write them down on 3x5 note cards.  On the front side write the concept, question, or idea and on the back write the answer or explanation.  The week before test day, run through your cards whenever you have a chance.

6. Study Groups.  Seek out friends with whom you can study, compare notes, discuss concepts, quiz each other on details, and anticipate test questions together.  If possible talk to others who have taken the class before you and pick their brains about the test they took.

7. Attitude Adjustment.  Think positively!  A good golfer lining up a difficult putt visualizes success.  Do the same things with your test taking; see yourself taking the test confidently, visualize yourself scoring well, and allow yourself lots of confident self talk.  If you went to class and read the material, you can be successful.

8. Take Care of Yourself.  Although this is obvious, it is important that you make an effort to take care of yourself physically.  Get enough sleep, take time to exercise, eat sensibly, and doní forget a little recreation and pleasure.

The monster of test dread can be weakened if you are prepared intellectually, emotionally, and physically.  After all, the monster is mostly internal and is something that can be controlled.  The best test dread prescription is preparation, preparation, preparation.