Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Test taking

I work part time as a math tutor. I wish I could say I was saving for next year's tuition, but unfortunately this job really just offsets my binging costs. However, as I get better, I'll spend less money on binge food, and be able to save up properly for tuition, or for more Starbucks ;)

The girl I am currently tutoring is quite bright. Math isn't her strong suit, but with a bit of extra help she is able to understand and get most of the problems. However, she seems to have quite bad test anxiety. It is fustrating for me to see her understanding the concepts and that not being reflected in her grade, but must be even more frustrating for her. She works incredibly hard, does all her homework, but her grade doesn't reflect that.

Suffering from general anxiety disorder; learning how to manage it has been very important for my academic performance. There are three main things I do to keep my anxiety at a minimum when test writing.
1. Talk to my doctor and the disability office in order to get accommodations for my tests and exams. Personally, I get a days rest between all my tests and exams, I don't write in the evening, I get a smaller room (25 people instead of the 1000s when we write finals), and immediate bathroom access.
2. I write a practice test. Often teachers will post them online, or I'll find a review section in the textbook and use that as my practice test. It soothes me knowing that I can handle doing the questions at home, now I just need to do them in the testing environment.
3. I use my breathing skills when I start to panic. Breath in for 4 counts, hold for 7, exhale for 8. And repeat. Every time I get to a question that makes my heart start to race I repeat this pattern a couple times, calm down and try to attack the question.

Of course it isn't a fail-proof system. Anxiety can get the best of me, and I take meds as well to help. But I talked to my client about these three techniques I use. I recommended that she talk to her teacher so that she can write the test in a different room - which would allow her to quietly talk to herself while writing her test - something that I've noticed her do. I made her write a practice test during our session yesterday, and taught her the breathing pattern. She writes her test today, and I hope my techniques help her perform well, and I hope they help you guys and we head into exam season.


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