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De-Stress for Exams with Dr. London

As final exams approach, more and more students will…

  1. Begin studying each day, adhering to a strict study schedule.  

  2. Procrastinate and study the night before the scheduled exam.

  3. What final exams?

Whatever your answer may be, there is no question that in just one week, RASG Hebrew Academy high school students will begin their final exams.  By the time you are in high school, many students have become accustomed to the rigor of  high school academic life and the need to juggle many classes. You have certainly taken your fair share of exams as well.  However, there is something about final exams that raises the anxiety level up a notch and makes us all want to pray for a snow day. Too bad we live in Florida and that is just not an option. So, this year, try the following recommendations to help reduce your test anxiety.

  1. First and foremost, BE PREPARED!

  2. Set up a study schedule that you can stick to at least a week before your exams commence. Break down your study sessions into small short chunks: 20 -30 minute sessions over a few weeks.  Cramming for tests has been linked to the lowest grades.

  3. Avoid rereading notes or highlights from a text. Instead, make flashcards as a memory reinforcement tool.

  4. Before you begin to study, set a goal for yourself. What do you want to accomplish in the next hour?

  5. Expect to be able to teach the material. The best way to feel prepared is to feel like you know that material that you could stand in front of the class and teach it yourself.

  6. Make your own practice tests. Work together with your peers and test each other. Use your old tests and quizzes to create these practice tests.  

  7. Avoid music and phone while studying: these devices can interfere with focus and decrease concentration.

  8. Develop study skills that utilize all of your brain’s magical potential.  Use memory strategies that are tried and true: mnemonic devices (who can tell us what PEMDAS is?), using music and writing your own songs to remember material (anyone familiar with Hannah Montana’s bone dance?) and taking notes that incorporates both sides of the brain by using color, images and webs (look up Mind Mapping to see how this is done or set up a meeting with Dr. London for a lesson) are all study skills that incorporate the right and left hemispheres of the brain.  

  9. Learn how to relax, especially right before you take your test but you should also practice while you’re studying. The following tips can help you relax and feel confident and ready to go!

  10. Start with your breath. Slow, calm, deep breathing can help us relax, manage stress, relieve anxiety and depression, and feel less irritable.  In fact, most methods of stress reduction have some component that focuses on breath and respiration as it is one of the few physiological functions we can alter.  Try practicing the “4,7,8” breathing technique as a way to get started ( a quick YouTube search will give you many examples of how to  do this).

  11. Meditation before an exam will help you relax and be ready to focus.

  12. Engage in positive self-talk. You can talk yourself into doing well as easily as you can talk and psych yourself out!

  13. Write down your worries before the exam; then crumble them up and throw them away.  One study found that anxious students who wrote down their worries before a test did better than those who didn’t. Might seem silly but what do you have to lose?

  14. Once you receive your exam…..

  15. Memory Dump: As soon as you sit down with the exam, write down as many of your mnemonics, main formulas, etc. that you can remember.  

  16. If there’s a question that you come across that you have no idea how to answer, move on and come back to it at the end.

Good luck!

Susie London, Psy.D.

Middle and High School Psychologist

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