With testing season in full swing, we know all too well that student stress levels are at their peak. Some students may even feel burnt out. Often, test preparation has been viewed as overwhelming for both teachers and students alike.
However, with the right tools and priorities, though, test preparation can be painless and productive!
Here are the most important points to remember:
1. Prepare with Study Guides
Make sure you prepare clear and concise study guides that are directly relevant to the objectives and standards being tested. Depending on the subject matter, it should have a detailed list of the material covered on the exam.
The guide should also include logistical information about the test so that students know exactly what to expect. For example, you may want to include an explanation of the test’s format and the amount of time allotted and a list of materials students should bring, such as No. 2 pencils tests or a specific type of calculator.
2. Offer Time Management Resources
Help your students study more effectively by creating a study schedule. Recommend the idea of spaced learning. Spaced learning reviews material over a long period of time.
Research shows that many students cannot recall as much information after they attempt to cram because they will have trained themselves to recite material instead of creating a meaningful understanding of it. Learning at a slower pace allows students to apply the skills they’ve learned.
3. Eat Nutrient-Rich Food and Remain Hydrated
What you put into your body certainly has an effect on your ability to take a test on it. Green tea, for example, has a substance called “polyphenols” which protect the brain from wear and tear, help cell growth, and create dopamine. Similarly, other readily available “brain food” can help students prep for tests:
- Eggs improve memory
- Wild salmon improves brain function
- Dark chocolate improves focus and concentration
Research also shows that students who drink water during an exam often get higher scores, as water has a positive physiological effect.
4. Encourage (A Lot Of) Rest
Many students take rest for granted but it is one of the most important factors that contribute to test preparedness. Lack of sleep affects three parts of your memory negatively:
While acquisition and recall happen while we are awake, consolidation happens when we are asleep and just waking up. This is the part that transfers your knowledge and experiences into memories for long-term retention.
5. The Less Screen Time, The Better
This one is not always easy for today’s students. The typical pupil has access to a high volume of electronic devices on a daily basis. Letting go of this routine during study periods can significantly help test-preparation ability.
In fact, scientific research shows how screen time negatively affects the body’s natural sleep cycle. Screen time during study sessions impairs both attention and short-term memory.
6. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness gives students the edge to perform at their best because it helps them control how they react to stress. There are proven techniques, such as outbreaths and posture awareness.
7/11 breathing, for example, requires students to breathe in to a count of seven and out to a count of eleven – this calms the nervous system. Many mindfulness techniques are taught in yoga classes but are entirely transferable to the classroom.
7. Take Brain Breaks
Along with mindfulness, students should be given the chance to take a break if the exam is of considerable length.
Since leaving the exam environment isn’t always possible, students should learn quiet exercise techniques they can perform at their seats, without disrupting others. The neck stretch, wrist stretch, hand stretch, tricep and side stretch, and side twists all help release tension and stiffness.
8. Crossing the Finish Line
Finally, one of the most popular questions asked during a classroom test is, “What do I do when I’m done?”
The obvious answer is to relax. Some students might want to go back into their study guide or ask you to grade the test immediately, but this might cause unnecessary stress.
Students should be advised to do something enjoyable and relaxing, but also productive. For younger kids, word searches and drawing pictures seem to bring down anxiety, and for older kids, reading a book or resting your eyes tend to alleviate exam stress.
Either way, it’s important for instructors to share positive energy with students so that they are motivated to keep learning and try even harder next time!
Stress is a big issue for many college students. Learn how to help keep stress in check with these coping strategies.