How to Beat Test Anxiety

You pay attention in class, you study hard, and you know your stuff. But you still did poorly in that Big Test. What happened? Maybe you’ve got test anxiety.

Test anxiety is a big factor for many students who do poorly in school. Instead of feeling challenged by proving that they’ve learned the material well, students with test anxiety fear that they’d fail. This fear makes them anxious about tests and their own ability and ultimately, they become so worked up about the potential of failure that they couldn’t concentrate on the test itself, and miss easy questions. In short, in test anxiety, the fear of failure itself helps create the actual failure.

How can you beat test anxiety? Here are a few tips:

Long-Term Strategy to Beat Test Anxiety

  • Develop Healthy Studying Habit
    Start preparing for midterms and finals the first day of class. Study the material on a regular basis well before the test. This is because real learning take place over a period of time. Review the materials more than once, and try to associate new subjects with what you’ve already learned before to help your brain integrate the information.
  • Work on Your Memory
    Just like athletes improve their performance by exercising their bodies, students should “train” their brains to improve memory skills. There are many ways to do this, such as making flash cards and ¬†working on recall techniques by associating words with facts.
  • Learn Test-Taking Skills
    Multiple-choice, true/false, matching, and essay-based tests require different approaches. In tests with combinations of these forms, you need to learn to pace yourself. Most of the times, different sections of the tests have different values or weights toward the final grade, so you should concentrate most of your focus and energy for the section that’s worth the most.

Short Term Strategy to Beat Test Anxiety

Okay, all that is fine and good as long-term strategy to beat test anxiety, but the test in two days! What to do? Don’t panic, here are a few quick tips:

  • Don’t Cram
    Cramming the night before the test increases anxiety. The lack of sleep doesn’t help, either – in fact, if your brain is too tired from lack of sleep, it can forget things that it has already learned.
  • Skip the Caffeine
    Too much caffeine can make test anxiety worse. While it helps keep you awake, caffeine will make your brain too wired to focus on the test in front of you.
  • Skip Heavy Meals
    Don’t eat too much, especially a few hours before the test. Digesting heavy meals will make you drowsy as your digestive system will be competing with your brain for oxygen-rich blood.

Is My Child Gifted?

Every child is special, but how can a parent truly tell whether they have a gifted child?

What does “gifted” really mean anyway?

Smart child in front of chalkboard

First, let’s define the word “gifted” as it comes in many different forms and degrees. Different gifted children excel in different areas. Some have higher general intellectual ability, whereas some have higher abilities in specific areas such as math, art, and creative thinking.

Most gifted children have IQ scores between 130 and 155. About 3% of all children are considered gifted. Those with IQ scores higher than 155 are considered extremely gifted, and they’re quite rare.

What are the characteristics of gifted children?

Gifted children usually have the following characteristics:

  • Great memory
  • Higher level of curiosity
  • Sensitivity to others
  • Extensive vocabulary

It’s important for parents to identify gifted children as early as possible, because early education system aren’t geared toward supporting them.

Why do gifted children often classified as having psychological problems?

Because the behavior of many gifted children resemble those of children with attention deficit/hyperactive disorder (ADHD). It can be difficult to distinguish gifted children who are acting out because they’re bored with school, or those who are intense in their focus in pursuing certain activities they’re passionate about, to children who are unruly because they have ADHD.

To make matters worse, most teachers aren’t trained to distinguish the two. Indeed, about 25% of gifted children aren’t recognized as gifted. Instead, they are diagnosed as having a psychological disorder.

Does Music Make You Smarter?

Child Playing Piano

When we think of learning, we think of the three Rs: reading, writing and arithmetic. But what about music? Can listening to Mozart turn your kid into a genius? Can music make you smarter?
Music and arts are often cited for stimulating the creativity of students and expanding their cultural horizon. There are two oft-cited studies that suggest students with formal music education have higher test scores and greater spatial intelligence than those who do not have formal music education.

What is spatial intelligence?

Spatial intelligence is the ability to visualize with the mind’s eye. It’s defined by Howard Gardner in 1983 as part of the Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Here, Gardner defined spatial intelligence as the mental skill to solve navigational problems, to visualize objects from different angles, as well as to recognize fine details in faces and scenes. Basically, It’s the ability to visualize the image of an apple and manipulate it in your mind.

Studies that show music can make you smarter

A study led by psychologist Frances Rauscher and neuroscientist Gordon Shaw of the University of California, Irvine, showed that preschool children who took music lessons are dramatically better than those who have not taken any formal music lesson.

The¬†second study, conducted by the same authors, is even more dramatic: Rauscher and Shaw found that listening to 10 minutes of Mozart’s Piano Sonata K448 increased the spatial reasoning (or spatial IQ) of college students. In contrast, those who spent similar amount of time in silence or in verbal relaxation showed no improvement. Interestingly, listening to modern musical composition by Philip Glass or a highly rhythmic dance song also do not increase the students’ spatial reasoning ability.

So, can music really make you smarter? Should you go out and buy a classical music CD for your baby? Rauscher said, “I don’t think it can hurt. I’m all for exposing children to wonderful cultural experiences. But I do think the money could be better spent on music education programs.”