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|Posted on April 6, 2011 at 1:08 AM||comments (62)|
Test Taking and Managing Anxiety
A certain level of anxiety is helpful as it inspires one to take action and study. However, too much anxiety can lead to avoidance behavior as one may procrastinate, or it may cause one too freeze during test time. This can lead to going “blank” during the test—all of a sudden your forget everything, perhaps you lose your ability to focus, your heart starts beating faster, and you become more panicked and flustered. You may find that you run out of time or are unable to complete problems you have already studied.
So, how can you cope with test anxiety?
1. Adequate preparation.
~~>Study a little bit every day. Sometimes getting started is the hardest part, so commit to 15 minutes a day. You may find that once you get started, you will go over the 15 minutes.
~~>Try to see the bigger picture. Often, titles and highlighted words can key you into the big picture. Make connections to previous readings or notes.
~~> Create 5-7 key words that represent the material you learned and be able to verbally elaborate on each word/concept.
2. Be kind to yourself.
~~> Practice deep breathing. Individuals tend to breathe shallowly or even hold their breath when feeling anxious. Sometimes they are not even aware of it. Shallow breathing limits your oxygen intake and adds more stress to your body, creating a vicious cycle. Breathing exercises can break this cycle. Set 15 minutes to practice breathing. You may be surprised how energizing or relaxing this could be. If you dismiss this suggestion, just notice and get curious about why.
~~> 1. Sit up straight and allow your feet to touch the ground.
2. Place one hand on your diaphragm and the other on your chest.
3. Take in a deep breathe in through your nose and exhale slowly though your mouth.
4. Inhale and exhale on a count of 5 and overtime try to work your way up to a count of 8.
5. Your hand should move out as your inhale and the hand on your chest should stay relatively still.
6. If you lose your concentration, just come back to your breath.
7. Do this for 15 minutes.
8. Notice your experience. Notice if this helps you feel more relaxed or nervous. If you become more anxious, notice where your mind went. Notice why an exercise that was meant to relax was anxiety provoking. Did you have judgements? Was it too boring? Waste of time? Just notice and keep practicing. Try this in the now or tomorrow morning!
~~> 1. Cover your right nostril with your thumb and inhale through the left.
2. With your index finger cover your left nostril and exhale through your right.
3. Then switch sides.
4.Practice this for at least 5 minutes. Try this now!
* Stop, breathe, smile, and go slowly!
Yasi Shamtoub, M.A.
|Posted on January 19, 2011 at 3:36 AM||comments (199)|
Individuals differ in their learning styles. Below you will find descriptions of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners. However, remember that they are just categories and things are not always so cut and dry. Individuals can have a predominant learning style and yet display characteristics of the other learning styles.
Your learning style may be the single most important key to improving your grades.
Students learn in many ways, like seeing, hearing, and experiencing things first hand. But for most students, one of these methods stands out.
Why is this important? Research has shown that students can perform better on tests if they change study habits to fit their own personal learning styles.
For example, visual-learning students will sometimes struggle during essay exams, because they can't recall test material that was "heard" in a lecture.
However, if the visual learner uses a visual aid when studying, like a colorful outline of test materials, he or she may retain more information. For this type of learner, visual tools improve the ability to recall information more completely.
A simple explanation of learning styles is this: Some students remember best materials they've seen, some remember things they've heard, while others remember things they've experienced.
You may recognize your own style quickly, once you look over the characteristics. If any of the traits and characteristics below sound familiar, you may have identified your own style.
Visual Learner Characteristics
Visual learners are those who learn through seeing things. Look over the characteristics below to see if they sound familiar. A visual learner:
Learning Suggestions for Visual Learners
Best Test Type for Visual Learners:
Diagramming, reading maps, essays (if you've studied using an outline), showing a process
Worst test type:
Listen and respond tests
Auditory Learner Characteristics
Auditory learners are those who learn best through hearing things. Look over these traits to see if they sound familiar to you. You may be an auditory learner if you are someone who:
Auditory Learners Can Benefit from:
Worst test type:
Reading passages and writing answers about them in a timed test.
Best test type:
Auditory Learners are good at writing responses to lectures they've heard. They're also good at oral exams.
Kinesthetic Learner Characteristics
Kinesthetic learners are those who learn through experiencing/doing things. Look over these traits to see if they sound familiar to you. You may be a kinesthetic learner if you are someone who:
Kinesthetic Learners Can Benefit from:
Worst Test Type:
Long tests, essays.
Best Test Type:
Short definitions, fill-ins, multiple choice.
|Posted on December 1, 2010 at 4:11 AM||comments (138)|
|Posted on November 27, 2010 at 4:44 PM||comments (188)|
How to Improve Memory
Once something is encoded into memory, the memory remains stored. The problem is not that the memory is gone, but that the connection or retrieval path cannot be accessed. Think of memory as a city. The more routes and modes of transportation you have to this city, the easier it is to access this place. Once you have traveled this route, you are less likely to get lost on subsequent trips and no longer need to rely on directions and a map, especially regarding trips you have made recently and frequently. The city doesn't disappear!
So the question becomes how can one learn information in a way that strengthens retrieval paths both in the short and long run.
E.g. Let’s say that I am at a party and someone introduces herself to me. Her name is Jasmine. I need to be attentive to learn this new information. If I am not attentive the information perhaps will not encode. Perhaps I am paying enough attention for it to encode but do not manipulate the information in any way. Thus, I cannot access her name from memory but when she restates her name, I experience an “oh yah” moment.
If I repeat her name in my head a few times, I will be more likely to remember her name, especially if I space the repetitions. What I mean by spacing is the amount of time that passes before I repeat her name again. If I retrieve/generate her name after 10 minutes, I had to work harder to retrieve that information than if I allow 2 minutes to pass.
Perhaps when I first meet her, I try to connect the information with other information I already know. For instance, I know Jasmine means flower and this person also happens to look like Princess Jasmine from the Disney cartoon Aladdin. Now I have connected this information to two other networks, which will also make the retrieval path stronger.
E.g. I am studying for a history exam. I am reading the chapter. When I am reading the information, I need to pay attention to it in order to encode it. After each paragraph, I might verbally summarize what I read. If I summarize from memory, I am generating the information, as well as repeating and organizing it. I may connect the information to a previous section or chapter thus increasing connections to other networks and forming multiple retrieval paths.
After I read the whole chapter, I might try to generate the information I read from memory. I may do this an hour later, five hours later, and two days later. Thus, I have not only had multiple repetitions, but I have also had experience generating the information.
However, if it is multiple choice test I may only need to recognize and be familiar with the information and multiple generations may not be useful or efficient. For an essay test, I would need to generate the information and thus multiple generations over time may be more useful.
Yasi Shamtoub, M.A.