As the STAAR test approaches student-testing fear begins. According to the American Test Anxiety Association as much of 20% of students, experience severe test anxiety and 18% of students may have a moderate form of anxiety. Students taking an exam must draw on their own working memory, however when students are experiencing anxiety their worries use up some of their working memory, leaving fewer cognitive resources to dedicate to their test.
Test anxiety is preventable, and these tips can help get your stress levels under control. Sian Beilock, a cognitive scientist at the University of Chicago conducted an experiment where students spend 10 minutes writing about their thoughts and feelings before the test and saw a significant improvement on student scores. Test anxiety can happen to anyone, but there are steps you can take to minimize its effects. Before the test, you need to develop good study habits, try to keep a positive attitude, make sure that you are getting good rest, eat healthy food, and take practice tests in calming environments.
During the test, make sure you ask your teacher to seat you in an area with little distraction, try to practice deep breathing techniques, and read directions carefully. Also if your mind goes blank on one question, skip it and go on to the next question, and remember if you see other students turning in their exam remind yourself that it not a race. After the test, reward yourself with a snack or a dessert. During this test season, remember that there is no shame in needing to work at something to get better at it.