Ask Cristina

Cristina Zirilli, Reporter

Dear Cristina,
I get anxiety when I take tests, even though I study for three hours a night. My grades aren’t good and I am frustrated because I try so hard in school.

Dear Frustrated,

I am sorry to hear that you are going through this problem in school. Getting anxiety while taking tests is a terrible feeling, when you’ve studied for three hours the night before, to arrive at a test and find you can’t remember the names of all the countries, or the definitions for the vocabulary words. Rote memory is something that some people are better at than others. You may be more of a problem solver than someone who memorizes and that is OK.

The problem comes in when facing a subject in which it is necessary to memorize facts to succeed in that subject. I like to quiz myself by writing out all of the words, or finding a blank template of a world map, and seeing how many of the blanks I can fill in on my own. Then, I look up the answers, and fill in the blanks I got wrong. I measure my progress, and usually within an hour I can remember many more definitions, or locations than I did when I started studying. Unfortunately for some people, simply rereading the notes isn’t enough.

If you can’t remember every definition or location at home when you are quizzing yourself, you will not be able to remember them on the test. A good cure for test anxiety would be to simulate testing conditions while you are studying. During the exam, many students don’t do well not because they didn’t study enough, but because they get distracted by the “testing feeling”. By the “testing feeling”, I mean the quiet can be overwhelming, knowing that it will count may cause you to freeze, or even being scared of failing. Students need to fight that “testing feeling,” so they can write down the information that they know efficiently and accurately. If you spend too much time lingering, you will become more nervous and the information may seep out of your brain.

Creating a blank test for yourself is one good method. Being forced to “take the test” in advance will allow you to overcome this “testing feeling” , therefore on the real exam you will feel confident that this is something you have done it before. Another way to fight the “testing feeling” would be to time yourself when it comes to filling out a blank exam. If you need to label a world map in 20 minutes during school, you can practice good time management at home. Another good trick, is during the exam, going through the questions at a quick pace. You shouldn’t rush, but if you do all of the questions at a good pace, you will then have time to go back and check them over. Careless mistakes are a huge point snatcher, and can be extremely frustrating after you have spent much time preparing for an exam. Test taking skills can be improved over time and with practice, and you can turn your turn the anxiety that you get on tests into test confidence. I hope my tips have helped.