And, of course,
Preparation is essential to calming anxiety and quelling fears of failure. Of course it means studying, but it also includes ensuring that your entire body is at ease and ready to perform well.
1. Learn to study effectively
There are many study strategies that can help students learn and recall information more readily. These include effective solutions such as colour-coding notes, consolidating, using cue cards, and mnemonics. The BFDC regularly offers study skills courses.
2. Start early
According to the APA, years of research have proven that spacing out study sessions over a longer period of time improves long-term memory. If you have 12 hours to spend on a subject, it’s better to study it for three hours each week for four weeks than to cram it all in 12 hours the day before the test.
3. Study in test-like settings
Fit in some study time at school. Research shows that studying in the same type of setting as your test can help you remain calm and recall the information you need at test time. Studying in a library is also a good choice. The abundance of powerful academic cues help students feel studious and focused.
4. Have a routine
Rituals and routines are calming. Figure out what works for you and stick to it. Set up your study materials the way you like, use your favourite pens, and wear your coziest sweatshirt. Be careful not to associate success with objects. If you don’t have your sweatshirt for the test, your performance should not slip.
5. Eat and drink well
Take study breaks to eat regular, nutritious meals to keep your energy up. Avoid surgery foods that create spikes and drops in blood sugar, and use caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea carefully. They can be helpful in keeping you alert, but they can also cause anxiety. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
6. Don’t forget to exercise
Exercise reduces the body’s stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, which can be elevated during exam season. Fit in regular exercise as you study – even 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity is effective. Exercise also produces endorphins, natural chemicals in the body that elevate mood and reduce pain.
7. Sleep well
Adequate sleep is directly connected to academic performance. A well-rested brain is far more capable of retaining information and consolidating memories. Tweens and teens need 9-10 hours of sleep a night, especially during test time.
8. Talk to your teacher
If you are unclear about anything at all, follow up with your teacher. Enter the test confident you have done everything you could to understand the subject material. Ask your teacher what is expected to be on the test so you can focus on the material that matters most.
9. Learn to relax
10. Address learning needs
If your child has a learning disability, such as dyslexia or dyscalculia, there are testing accommodations available. These include more time to complete the test and using a keyboard to type answers. The use of accommodations require a diagnosis from a trained mental health professional.
If your child struggles with test anxiety, or appears to have a learning disability, contact the BFDC. We can help.