Learning to cope with exam stress can improve grades

A recent Times article outlines the problems of test anxiety and gives a few examples of coping techniques we wholeheartedly embrace at Wisdom of Learning!

The February 2013 issue of Time magazine featured an excellent article by Annie Murphy Paul titled Relax, It’s only a Test. It opens stating: “as any parent or teacher knows, tests can create crippling anxiety in students, and anxious kids can perform below their true abilities.” (p43) What’s worse, high-stake exams have “… become the norm at every public school in every state in the country” (p44) in recent years. Yikes!

This has given rise to test anxiety that can affect individual’s entire life, reports Annie. It can affect any age or social group, but is often even greater among women and minorities due to the additional fear of “confirming” the negative stereotype that they are somewhat inferior.

But not all is lost – there are many ways to cope with stress, such as “expressive writing” – spending half an hour before test just writing down one’s thoughts and fears. As we mentioned before, anxiety is a bit of a con-artist, so writing out all it’s “tricks” on paper helps us realize they’re just that – tricks our minds play with us. Another technique is a “relaxation intervention,” where taking the time to simply lie down and let our mind relax can significantly boost performance afterwards.

Annie’s article definitely confirms what we’ve learned over the years at Wisdom of Learning, and many of our tools and skills are examples of expressive writing and relaxation interventions. So if you believe test anxiety may be hurting your or your child’s grades and scores, head over to our free evaluation and see how we can help!


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