|Reducing TEST ANXIETY
For Standardized Tests
By Norman Prince
Are you (or your kids) concerned about changes in the SAT tests? Want to make sure that you're fully prepared for licensing or certification? Norman Prince is one of OPEN EXCHANGE's longest longtime listers, having taught test preparation, speedreading and study skills for us since the mid-1970s. His techniques are proven to raise test scores by a significant margin, often making the difference in securing admission to a great school!
The major cause of test anxiety is not being, or not feeling, prepared. The following technique won't help much if you aren't prepared but will if you are. This technique combines elements from yoga breathing, relaxation, visualization, and affirmations.
The script (everything "in quotes") is meant to be tailored by you to reflect how you think about and say things. It's most effective to say the script out loud, but you can just think ("hear") it.
Each element can be used alone to help prepare for tests, but using all of the elements together works best.
Inhale through your nose for a count of four ("count one a thousand, two a thousand, etc.") This should be deep abdominal breathing - your stomach expands as you inhale.
Hold the breath for a count of seven (7), and exhale through your mouth for a count of eight (8), making a "whooshing" sound as you exhale.
Script: "Before the exercise- "I'm beginning to relax as I take these breaths. When I finish, I will be much more relaxed."
If needed, you can repeat the cycle of four (4) breaths a maximum of one (1) time. This breathing technique alone can also help you relax in other stressful situations, such as while driving.
Script: "I'm going to relax my body, part by part; when I'm finished, I'll be completely relaxed physically. I begin by picturing my forehead and scalp, and I can feel the nervous and muscular tension of the day releasing, and flowing out- it feels like tingling. All the stress of the day is leaving as I relax completely."
Repeat the visualizing and script as you relax: your face, cheeks and jaw; neck and throat; shoulders and upper arms; forearms and hands; chest and upper back; stomach and lower back; hips and thighs; knees and calves; ankles and feet.
Script: " I'm now completely relaxed physically- all the stress and tension of the day has been released."
Script: "As I count down from ten (10) to zero, I'm releasing all of the worry and anxiety of the day. When I reach zero, I'll have let go of all of the mental and emotional stress of the day.
Ten (10), I'm beginning to let go of all of the day's worry and anxiety. Nine (9), as I count down, my mental stress is decreasing. With each count, I'm more and more relaxed emotionally. Zero, I'm now completely relaxed mentally and physically- all tension and anxiety has been released."
Script: "I'm going to do well on this test because I have prepared well. I've attended a workshop, been tutored on the test and/or have done practice sections and/or practice exams."
"I've learned which section(s) and question types I most needed to improve on. And I've learned the strategies (and subject matter) that I needed to in order to improve. I've set and met improvement goals."
"I may not do every multiple-choice question and may not get every one correct, but I'll do my best- that is all that I can do. I will get the score that I need for my purposes."
"When distracted by external factors in the testing situation, I'll remind myself that I can't control them. However, I can control how I react to them- I don't have to react."
"When distracted by anxiety or worry about anything, I'll remind myself that I have only these few hours to do my best on the test and that I'll deal with the issue after."
"I can also do brief breathing exercises, visualizations, or affirmations during the test to relax and focus myself if I'm getting anxious."
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