It happens to everyone. You studied your heart out – mostly at the last minute. You sit down in front of the exam. Your heart is beating. Panic! You are short of breath. You look at the first problem. It’s easy! But – you blank out. It is called test anxiety. Slay this dragon, and you have half the battle won. But how? Test taking skills are available to everyone. They have to do with preparation, attitude and relaxation. You can learn to be calm and confident.
- schedule and study for the exam early
- practice visualization
- the Situation method
- leave your studies to the last minute
- go into the test without eating
- memorize without understanding
Plan your study time over a period of at least one month before the test. Get yourself a calendar just for studying. If you are prepared, then you are confident and strong. Planned study organizes the data that you have to know. This is crucial to understanding the material.
It is a yoga exercise that millions of people do all over the world. Relax your face and neck muscles first – they are the worst! Then your arms, stomach, thighs, calves. Relaxation works!! Try to cover all the muscles of the body – your hands, your jaw – everything. The more relaxed you are, the smarter you are with grades up to 25 percent higher than if you are nervous and worried. Relaxation requires practice. Practice relaxation of all your muscles before the test. Even if you have not studied enough, relaxation will help you to get a better grade. Remember – relax those neck muscles!
Olympic athletes visualize perfect performance and do better – scientific studies on successful sports psychology have proven it . You can do the same. Close your eyes and imagine the pencil, the chair – and you doing your best. Imagine it in detail and in real time. Imagine the total circumstances of your test. Do it carefully, with detail – the chair, the imaginary person sitting next to you. When you have visualized, then nothing can surprise you. You have been there, done that. If it works for Olympic speed skaters, then visualization will work for you!
Most standardized tests – ACT,SAT, GRE, GMAT – are given in the morning – usually 8:00 a.m. You can train yourself to overcome morning grogginess. Practice this twice a week: Wake up at 7:00 a.m. have some orange juice and something to eat (crucial) and sit down at a desk and do part of a practice test. Then, you are familiar with the “situation” (not the guy from New Jersey.)
It has been proven by experiments in cognitive psychology that last-minute cramming is the worst and most inefficient form of study. Daily study over a long time creates a better and more powerful memory. Look at your week realistically and plan it out. Write it down in your calendar! Study every day. Daily study increases your memory exponentially! Get yourself that study-calendar! Plan out an hour and a half to study every day – and write it out in advance in your calendar. Preparation is the key to success! You will eliminate anxiety when you know that you have studied well.
Orange juice, eggs, a muffin, an apple, a granola bar – probably not coffee – you need your food. Going into a test without eating is one of the worst things you can do. Be sure you eat something before you take your exam.
Worrying has no use. It will get you nowhere. If you relax, your mind will work better and you will remember things that you thought you had forgotten. Don't stress out about the test, instead be confident in your abilities to pass it.
Most standardized tests – SAT, GMAT, ACT, GRE – are multiple choice. Your first instinct is usually your best choice. Do not over-think and second-guess yourself.
The best way to memorize is to understand. The more you understand, the more the facts fit into place. If you do not understand, then find someone who does and ask questions, question, questions.
Modern visualization training was developed for cosmonauts in Russia then used with the Olympic speed skating team. Those who spent the most time imagining perfect skating in real time did 25 percent better than those who did not. Then, Olympic teams around the world picked it up. Visualize what you need to do in advance. Regulate and monitor and plan your studies. Practice relaxation every day. When you are relaxed, you will remember information that you thought you had forgotten. Relaxation equals higher IQ.