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Lesson 5: Techniques To Reduce Test Anxiety

  1. Make the first exam "relatively" easy, but not so much so that they are disillusioned regarding upcoming exams.
  2. Give more than one exam.
    • This is particularly important if your goal is to facilitate learning.
    • Periodic testing tends to result in better performance on final exams.
    • Too few exams may not motivate students to study, nor do they give students or instructors enough feedback.
  3. Avoid "pop" quizzes.
  4. Give students advice on how to study, such as...
    • spread studying out over several days versus cramming.
    • get a good nights sleep.
    • review with another student and/or form a study group.
  5. Schedule extra office hours before an exam and/or encourage study groups to make an office visit.
  6. Schedule in or out of class review sessions.
    Ideas for in-class review sessions might include:
    • Focused Listing - The students list information they believe other students should know to be successful on an upcoming exam. Students come to some consensus in small groups and then share results with the large group.
    • Matrix - The students are given a list of terms that they have to put under the appropriate label.
    • Jeopardy - Give students the answers and they have to come up with the question you desire.
  7. Ask students how you can help them feel less anxious. Or, ask them what makes them feel anxious.
  8. Distribute practice exams either in-class or as a take home assignment.
  9. Explain the format prior to the test day to include such information as the number of questions, the types of questions, etc.
  10. Emphasize on the exam what you emphasized in class, the readings and the homework. In other words, test to what you teach.
  11. Have students that succeeded in one of your classes write a short note of advice to incoming students on how to study for your exams. Distribute these to the next class. Students often hear advice better from other students versus the instructor.
  12. Consider allowing students to write information on a 3 x 5 card that they can use while taking the test.
  13. To reduce their anxiety during the exam, leave space for students to write comments after multiple choice and true false questions. Be sure to explain why there is extra space so that students don't interpret this space to mean that they need a longer answer.

  14. Or...
    • ask students to write a short justification for any questions they perceive to be tricky or misleading.
    • let students rewrite multiple choice items. (Limit two per test.)
    • include a blank question on the exam and ask students to write a question and answer over content they were well prepared to answer.
  15. Give your students a "magic moment."
    The instructor announces a "magic moment" and students have only one minute to utilize whatever resources they wish to aid them in taking the test. Keep in mind that this needs to be given before anyone finishes the exam. Students are told prior to the test date that they will be allowed one "magic moment."

Lessons: Index, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, References

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