Overcoming Test Anxiety

“Alright, everyone.  Close your books, put your notes away.  It’s time to begin.”

I fumble my pen, wipe my sweaty palms on my jeans and try to pull myself together.  Breathe, Liz.  Breathe!  This is the big leagues – the final exam.

Uncertainty overwhelms me.  What if I didn’t study the right material?  What if I can’t remember what I studied?  What if I flunk this?

If I fail this, I’ll lose my scholarship.  If I lose my scholarship, I won’t be able to afford college.  If I don’t go to college, I’ll have to find a job.  If I can’t find a job, I’ll starve and die.

If I fail, I’ll die.

I really shouldn’t be here.

I place my trembling fingers on the desk, and my professor slides the exam in front of me.  I scan the first question, and my heart sinks.  I’m definitely going to fail.

Sound familiar?

Considering the high-pressure environment of finals week, it’s no surprise that many students struggle with test anxiety.  And while a mild dose of adrenaline can boost exam scores, too much, as in the case of test anxiety, can be distracting and overwhelming.

But fear not, fellow test-taker.  All is not lost.  With the help of a few simple techniques, you may be able to significantly reduce your symptoms of test anxiety.

Symptoms of test anxiety:

- Fear of failing before arriving to take the exam.

- Feelings of tension as the exam is being passed out.

- Physical symptoms such as: increased heart rate, shortness of breath, perspiration, etc.

- Negative thinking such as: “I am going to fail,” “I shouldn’t even bother taking this exam,” “I’m going to die.”

- Blanking out on information that you studied.

- Recalling information upon leaving the classroom that you blanked out on during the exam.

- Frustration with your grade on the exam because you know you were well prepared.

Techniques to reduce test anxiety:

- Prepare for the exam ahead of time.  “Cramming” is a big culprit of test anxiety.

- Get plenty of rest the night before the exam.

- Don’t forget to eat the day of the exam, preferably something nutritious.

- Avoid arriving too early or late to the exam.

- Avoid last minute studying; remember you already prepared.

- Avoid discussing the exam with others while you wait.  The anxiety of other students can rub off, and suddenly you begin to doubt yourself.

- Don’t forget to breath!  Take deep breaths to help yourself relax.

- Replace any negative thoughts with positive ones, such as: “I am relaxed,” “I am prepared,” “I am a good student.”

- Don’t get bogged down during the exam.  If you can’t think of the answer immediately, move on.  Return to the question later.

- Reward yourself when you are finished with the exam.  If it takes the promise of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey to get you through, so be it.

So the next time you feel your heart kick into high gear during an exam, remind yourself of these tips.  Breathe, think positively, and keep pressing onward.

Face those finals.  Take them down.  Winter break is almost here!  Can you taste it?

Adapted from University of Puget Sound Learning Center, used with permission.

Written by Elizabeth Hull

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Tame the Tension: 8 Tips to Manage Stress

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Stress always seems to catch me off guard.

Stress is like that annoying friend who sneaks up behind you, taps you on the left shoulder, then, as you turn to look, smacks you in upside of the head from the right. It catches you unawares, even if you think you are looking in the right direction. . . er, or should I say, left direction.

I usually start out the semester fine. I develop a rhythm, my eyes are fixed to the left, where I’ve set my goal and then, suddenly, from my right—

Smack.

Oops, looks like you forgot this deadline!

Smack.

Unexpected paper!

Smack.

Impossible group project time!

Smack.

Ahh, girl/boy/friend issues, eh? Better find a bench. Time for a DTR!

Smack.

Hmmm strange. My wallet must have swallowed my money again. I guess groceries will have to wait ‘til next paycheck.  . . when is that again?

Smack.

Guess I shouldn’t have procrastinated on that last project. Let’s lift up our coffee mugs and toast to another late night and a week’s worth of sleep deprivation!

Smack.

Note to self: invest in time machine so I can make it to that group/club meeting/job/class/workshop/sports game/friend’s recital . . . all at the same time . . .

Smack. Smack! SMACK!

Stress can get the best of us. What to keep in mind, however, is that this “friend” uses the same tricks each time. Once we understand this clever ruse, the next time it surreptitiously taps, we can train ourselves to look confidently over the right shoulder and stare it straight in the face.

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Here are some ways you can prepare yourself next time stress comes a-tappin’.

1. Prioritize 

As much as you try, you cannot do everything—nor should you try. Simply prioritizing the more important and pressing issues on your ever-growing “to-do” list can alleviate much pressure. What should get done first? What can be saved for next week?

2. Manage your time by keeping an organized schedule

Develop a schedule that will keep you on task. It can be an online calendar, a planner, an audio recording of your to-do list set to the Mission Impossible theme song—whatever your style will help you to remember what should be done in a given day/week/month. It is important to find a system that works for you and keep to it.

3.Try not to procrastinate

We all do it. In fact, you might be procrastinating right now by taking time to read this lovely article. That’s okay. Just take note that even by getting a small jumpstart on that future project you could be saving yourself unnecessary misery when assignments start piling up.

4. Know your limits

As students, we have become multi-tasking masters, but everyone has a breaking point. Recognize this point; if you are becoming overwhelmed with the amount heaped on your plate—between jobs and school and trying to maintain some semblance of a social life—be willing to let go of cumbersome responsibilities. It’s really okay to just say “no” to commitments that are becoming too much. Really!

5. Seek out social support

Much as we try, we can’t solve everything by ourselves, and we all need an outlet to plug into. If you are having a rough day, seek advice or a listening ear from friends, family, and/or mentors. Express your feelings instead of bottling them up—just by verbalizing anxieties, you can relieve stress tenfold.

6. Make time for fun and relaxation.

Seriously. As students, we are constantly on the go. While we want to get a good education, too much studying will make you go bonkers. I’m pretty sure that’s scientific fact. You can quote me on that.

We all need time to wind down. So watch a movie with friends. Go to a local festival. Have a game night. Life is supposed to be lived! Not just studied!

7. Keep a healthy diet and exercise

I know it’s hard.

It’s so much easier to go for the quick fix of “cheap ‘n’ easy mac’n’cheesy” than bothering with the cost and effort of fruits and veggies.

And, I know, the gym is sooo far away…and your bed and Netflix call to you with their sweet, tender siren songs.

But a good diet and regular exercise of even just 2 days a week will boost your mental and physical health, giving your body the much needed energy for those long school days.

8. Random Acts of Kindness

This one might catch you off guard, but did you know simply having an attitude of gratitude and performing acts of kindness can relieve stress and make for a happier you? No joke.Whole studies have been made of it.This guy even made a video about it.

Simply changing your outlook and showing appreciation for the small blessings in life can switch your mindset, causing the weightiness of daily problems to pale in comparison.

In the same grain, kindness is gratitude put into action.

So, volunteer at a soup kitchen. Mentor a student. “Adopt” a grandparent. Buy a friend coffee. Thank someone you love or appreciate having in your life. Give a generous tip. Surprise a random stranger in the checkout line by paying for their groceries.

It may seem like such a simple thing to do. Yet, feel the tension melt away.

——-

So, sally forth, brave collegiate! Don’t let stress get the best of you. And remember, the ARC is not just here for your essay needs, but if you need any help managing your time, battling the lures of procrastination, or you want some free tea and M&Ms, the ARC has tons of helpful materials, as well a team of friendly consultants who would be glad to work with you.

So, next time that “annoying friend” tries to get in one of those dreaded smacks to the head, turn for it head-on, duck, and poke it in the stomach.

. . .Okay, maybe a bad analogy. But you get my point.

*Additional ideas to relieve stress:

  • Go for a walk or spend time in nature
  •  Buy a piñata. Fill it with candy. Whack it down and share the goods with friends.
  • Keep a journal
  • Do your best Gollum impression
  • Call a good friend
  • Direct a self-play using shadow puppets
  • Sip your favorite coffee or tea
  • Find a puppy—play with it.
  • Curl up with a good book.
  • Listen to music.
  • Have a dance party.

Written by:

Jenna Eliel

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Filed under ARC, Georgefox, GFU, Learning, Read, Uncategorized, Writing

ARC Myths

Today on Mythbusters: George Fox Edition, we’ll be observing the George Fox English geek in its natural habitat: the Academic Resource Center. We are hoping to gain an insight into the infamous myths surrounding the ARC by observing the habits and rituals of what scientists call the ARCist Consultist.

Many legends hold that the ARC is a dark and dreary place, hidden deep in the bowels of the GFU Library, right next to the college mortuary and the old textbook annex. The Consultants who roam these halls are thought to be pasty-skinned introverts with nothing better to do than write Harry Potter fan fiction and browse the internet for Lord of the Rings screensavers. Others have heard of conspiracies designed to crush the spirit of any student to improperly employ an ampersand…

Fortunately, research suggests that although some ARC Consultants do appear rather pasty (courtesy of the beautiful Oregon weather), the other rumors are quite false.

ARC CONSULTANT

Regular college students by day but billionaire-crime-fighting-philanthropists by night, these dedicated men and women were specially selected to assist George Fox’s fine professors in teaching America’s most valuable skill: the proper use of APA, MLA, and Chicago/Turabian formats.

. . .Okay, so maybe that’s not the most important skill, but it’s definitely in the top five. Regardless, that’s why the Consultants are there. They are well-learned students with a desire to serve their fellow classmates. They want to help with anything from brainstorming for an essay to academic coaching. If you need help understanding a writing assignment, they’re your go-to men (and women). If you want to know how to manage your time so you’re not stuck trying to learn 99% of the course material on Dead Day, they’ve got your back. If you’re feeling a little iffy on how to cite a quotation in your paper, feel free to stop by. They want to be your mainstay, your bastion, your lighthouse among the treacherous waters of Bill Jolliff’s Lit 180 class. They’ve been there. They, too, have experienced that agony and have not only survived, but flourished in its wake.

Oh, but wait! There’s more!

These Consultants are no longer content to stand idly by while perfectly talented students are left floundering in self-doubt. There are no bad writers, no “stupid” students. No matter one’s skill level, Consultants encourage everyone to stop by for a consultation when a writing assignment is due. Heck, the Consultants even make appointments with one another, because they recognize that even the best writer can use a fresh set of eyes and a different point of view every once in a while.

The ARC, just like the Library, Print Services, or the Justice League, is just another resource to be utilized, a tool to be employed…a place to bum free food. That’s right. The ARC has snacks. We’re talking M & M’s, trail mix, and hot chocolate, people! How is that not awesome?

Written by: Jordan Nelson

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Filed under ARC, Myths, Uncategorized, Writing