Well, it’s about that time again: more tests, more stress. Though we can neither prevent the tests nor keep students from fretting over them, we can attempt to reduce some of the stress the tests induce. What follows is some advice we’ve given to our own students, and have attempted to heed in our own lives. Feel free to pass this on down the line.
– Don’t cram. Just hearing the word “cram” conjures painful images that can be counter-productive. Instead, encourage students to review plenty in the days and weeks before the test. Of course, even the most-urged advice may not find purchase with your flock. We can try, though.
– Enter Sandman. While sleeping during the examination period is poor pedagogical ploy, it is imperative for students to get their 8 (or more) hours the night before. Additionally…
– Get moving. Students need to blow off some steam during testing time, so they should get some exercise. Not only is this good for their bodies, but studies show that it can help jog their memory too (pun intended).
– Food, glorious food. Students should eat a good breakfast and drink plenty of water before their tests. Avoiding sugary, high carb foods is good, and focusing on choices packed with protein is even better.
– Water, please. Hydrate in the days leading up to testing, not just the day of or the day before.
– Don’t get the jitters. Just like teachers, many students have massive infusions of caffeine each day. But they should avoid having too much of it on test day. Having the caffeine jitters can distract their focus and lead to a poorer performance than they normally would experience. Speaking of which…
– First door on the left. Be sure to remind them to hit the bathroom before the test. ‘Nuff said.
– Dress in layers. Ok, not the MOST important tip, but it often seems that testing sites might double as meat lockers. If students have a sweater to put on- or a t-shirt to pare down should it actually be warm- they can help regulate their body temperature and focus more on the test.
– What’s the point? Be sure they bring plenty of writing implements. Two sharpened pencils and two pens? That should do, but have a few others just to be safe. After all, minds aren’t the only things that get dull or dry up over the course of a test.
Clearly, there are more tips, but applying these can help calm more pre-test nerves (for both of you).
About the Author
Kirby Spivey taught AP World History, US History, and many other Social Studies courses in Georgia. He and his wife live in Atlanta, GA. Both he and his wife still have nightmares about being unprepared for final exams.