48 - Final Helpful Hints for Tests

دوره: Coursera – Learning How to Learn / درس 48

Coursera – Learning How to Learn

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48 - Final Helpful Hints for Tests

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If you’re a stressed out test taker, keep

in mind that

the body puts out chemicals such as

cortisol when it’s under stress.

This can cause sweaty palms, a racing

heart, a knot on the pit of your stomach.

But interestingly, research finds, it’s

how you interpret these symptoms.

The story you tell yourself about why

you’re stressed makes all the difference.

If you shift your thinking from, this test

has made me

afraid, to this test has got me excited to

do my best.

It can really improve your performance.

Another good tip for panicky test takers


to momentarily turn your attention to your


Relax your stomach, place your hand on it,

and slowly draw a deep breath.

Your hand should move out, even as your

whole chest is expanding outward like a


By doing this type of deep breathing,


counteracting the fight or flight response

that fuels anxiety.

This calms you down.

But don’t just start this breathing on the

day of the test.

If you practice this breathing technique

in the weeks before, just

a minute or two here or there is all it


You’ll slide more easily into the

breathing pattern during the test.

Remember, practice makes permanent.

It’s especially helpful deliberately

moving to a deep breathing pattern

in those final anxious moments before a

test is handed out.

I’ve gotten great tips on test taking from

top professors from around the world.

And here are some of the best.

Susan Sajna-Hebert, a professor of


at Lakehead University, advises her

students to

cover up the answers to multiple choice

questions and to try to recall the


So they can answer the question on their

own first.

If her students might complain that the

practice test was way easier

than the real one, she asks, what makes

the two situations different?

When you took the practice test, were you

at home relaxing with toons on?

Taking it with a fellow student?

No time limit?

Did you have the answer key and class

materials at hand?

These circumstances are not exactly like a

crowded classroom with

a clock ticking away and no way to access

the answers.

Tracy Magrann, a professor of biological

sciences at

Saddleback College, tells her students to

face your fears.

Often, your worst fear is not to get the

grade you need for your chosen career.

How can you handle this?


Have a Plan B for the alternative career.

Once you have a plan for the worst

possible contingency,

you’ll be surprised that the fear will

begin to subside.

Professor Magrann notes, study hard up

until the

day of the test and then let it go.

Tell yourself, oh well, let me just see

how many questions I can get right.

I can always pursue my other career


That helps release stress, so you can

actually do

better and get closer to your first career


And Bob Bradshaw, a professor of math at


College, tells his students about good

worry and bad worry.

Good worry helps provide motivation and

focus, while bad worry simply wastes


Here are a few final thoughts.

The day before a test, or tests, have a


final look over the materials to brush up

on them.

You’ll need both your focus mode and


mode muscles, so to speak, the next day.

So you don’t want to push your brain too


You wouldn’t run a ten mile race the day

before running a marathon.

Don’t feel guilty if you can’t seem to get


to work too hard the day before a big


If you prepared properly, this seems to be

a natural reaction,

almost as if you’re subconsciously pulling

back to conserve mental energy.

While taking a test, you should also

remember how your mind can trick

you into thinking that what you’ve done is

correct, even if it isn’t.

This means whenever possible, you should


shift your attention, and then double


your answers using a, a big picture

prospective asking yourself, does this

really makes sense.

There’s often more than one way to answer

a question and checking your

answers from different perspectives

provides a

golden opportunity for verifying what

you’ve done.

If there’s no other way to check, except

to step back through your logic,

keep in mind that simple issues have

tripped up even the most advanced


Just do your best.

In science classes, having your units of

measurement match on each side of

the equation can provide an important clue

about whether what you’ve done is correct.

The order in which you work tests is also


Students generally work tests from front

to back.

When you’re checking your work if you

start more

towards the back and work towards the

front, it

sometimes seems to give your brain a

fresher perspective

that can allow you to more easily catch


Nothing’s ever certain.

Occasionally you can study hard and the

test gods simply

don’t cooperate, but if you prepare well

by practicing and

building a strong mental library, and you

approach test taking

wisely, you’ll find that luck will

increasingly be on your side.

I’m Barbara Oakley.

Thanks for learning how to learn.

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