Beating the Test Stress

Standardized tests get a bad rap. Students get stressed, parents get stressed and then students feel their parents’ stress and wig out some more. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Test stressAlbert Ellis, author of

How To Stubbornly Refuse To Make Yourself Miserable About Anything-yes, Anything

and critically acclaimed psychotherapist explains how we create our own misery and what you can do to avoid that spiral to into doom. It’s as easy as ABCD.

A is adversity. The test is hard.

B is your beliefs. Here’s where we go wrong. “This shouldn’t be this hard.” Or, “I ought to know all of this stuff by now.” But guess what, it is hard, and you may not know this stuff so . . .

C is consequences. You get angry, frustrated or depressed.

In very few cases can you change A. If you want to go to school, you need to take the test. But you can change B – these are your irrational beliefs. Listen for should, ought, must, need when you explain what it going on. If you can change B (and you can) then you will change C. Here’s the final piece:

D: Dispute your irrational beliefs. “Wait a second. When did the universe guarantee me a trouble-free existence? It didn’t. Tests have happened before. More tests will happen in the future. And I will survive.”

Try this example on something simple, say a quiz for which you have prepared adequately. “This quiz probably won’t be perfect, but I’ll give it my best effort.” You’re not frustrated when you when you get less than 100% and you get to enjoy the 100% if you do earn it.

On the other hand, when you say, “I will get 100% on this quiz,” and you miss a single question, you’ve failed. Your score won’t be a failure, but you’ll feel like one. You get annoyed, frustrated and yet, you probably still have 90% or better. The only thing that changed was your expectation of your result.

Eric Barker of Barking Up the Wrong Tree sums it up nicely.

. . . you tell a five-year old to stop yelling. They don’t listen. You don’t get that bothered. After all, the kid is five.

But if you tell me to stop yelling and I don’t listen, you get angry. What’s different? “Eric should stop. He’s an adult.

Again, nothing changed but your belief.

So try the ABCD approach to test anxiety. Reset your beliefs so you can give yourself a fair shot. And prepare. Positive beliefs do not get you out of prep work! They simply make the work you do more likely to stick.

Good luck!

 

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