Study Habits & Test Anxiety
The following information provides tips for better study habits and decreased test anxiety.
The Immediate Environment
The environment in which you study can have a big effect on how efficient your study time is. Check your place of study for the following conditions:
Minimize distracting noise. Some people need some sound and some like silence. Find what works for you.
Culprits are family and friends. Consider a "do not disturb sign" and turning on your answering machine. You can catch up with folks later.
75 watt bulbs are best, but not too close and placed opposite the dominant hand.
Better cool than warm.
Have plenty of room to work; don't be cramped. Your study time will go better if you take a few minutes at the start to straighten things up.
A desk and straight-backed chair is usually best. Don't get too comfortable--a bed is a place to sleep, not study.
Have everything (book, pencils, paper, coffee, dictionary, laptop, calculator, tape recorder, etc.) close at hand. Don't spend your time jumping up and down to get things.
Preparing for or Anticipating Test Anxiety
- What is it you have to do? Focus on dealing with it.
- Just take one step at a time.
- Think about what you can do about it. That's better than getting anxious.
- No negative or panicky self-statements; just think rationally.
- Don't worry; worrying won't help anything.
Confronting and Handling Test Anxiety
- Don't think about fear; just think about what you have to do.
- Stay relevant.
- Relax; you're in control. Take a slow, deep breath.
- You should expect some anxiety; it's a reminder not to panic and to relax and cope steadily with the situation.
- Tenseness can be an ally, a friend; it's a cue to cope.
Coping with the Feeling of Being Overwhelmed
- When the fear comes, just pause.
- Keep the focus on the present; what is it you have to do?
- You should expect your fear to rise some.
- Don't try to eliminate fear totally; just keep it manageable.
- You can convince yourself to do it. You can reason your fear away.
- It's not the worst thing that can happen.
- Do something that will prevent you from thinking about fear.
- Describe what is around you. That way you won't think about worrying.
- It worked! You did it!
- It wasn't as bad as you expected.
- You made more out of the fear than it was worth.
- You're getting better. You're learning to cope more smoothly.
- You can be pleased with your progress.
- You like how you handled it. You can be proud of it.
- Adapted from Asserting Yourself, Bower, Sharon Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., 1976.
List of Self Verbalizations
The list below contains some common thoughts and worries which many test anxious people have. Check those which you can identify with most. Feel free to add statements which more accurately reflect what usually goes on in your head.
- Be sure your goals are your own. It's your life. Do what means most to you. Self-set goals are better motivators than those imposed by others.
- Put goals in writing. This will lessen the odds of losing sight of your goals in the shuffle of daily activity. Writing goals also increases your commitment.
- Make your goals challenging but attainable. Good goals are neither too easy nor impossible. They should cause you to stretch and grow. A challenging, attainable goal will hold your interest and keep you motivated.
- Goals should be as specific and measurable as possible. Don't say, "I want a better job." Ask yourself: What kind of job? Making how much money? In what industry? Living where? Requiring what kind of skill? By when? Specify clearly what you want and you will save an enormous amount of time and effort.
- Every goal should have a target date. Never think of a goal as a goal until you set a deadline for accomplishment.
- Check your major goals for compatibility. Don't fall into the trap of setting major goals where the achievement of one will prevent the attainment of another.
- Frequently revise and update your goals. As a growing person your needs will change over time, and this means goals will have to be modified, discarded and added from time to time. Plan flexibly. Don't think of your goals as carved in stone.
Copyright - Counseling Services, State University of New York at Buffalo