Stress testing before finals

Graduation

Krista Pylant

News Writing Student

“Don’t stress; it’s just a test” is the message that Study Strategies and College Success instructor Maureen DuRant wants to communicate to the students of Cameron University.

On April 22, DuRant presented CU Succeed’s Reducing Test Anxiety workshop in the Shepler Centennial Room in preparation for the upcoming finals week.

During the workshop, students learned that test anxiety is a physiological condition that occurs when individuals experience extreme stress, anxiety and discomfort during or before a test.

While these responses can often hinder a student’s ability to perform well on exams and negatively affect their feelings about themselves and school, DuRant said anxiety can sometimes be beneficial and that awareness is the key to overcoming its debilitating effects. 

“Test taking anxiety is something that challenges us all on some level,” DuRant said. “I think some is okay, and some anxiety can actually motivate us. I don’t think we ever really come to the place where we say ‘I’ll take all of the anxiety out of my life,’ but maybe we can control it, so it is not going to impede our performance to the degree that we are not able to be successful.”

One way that text anxiety can be controlled is through preparation. DuRant suggests students should begin creating a study plan as soon as an upcoming test is announced. The idea is that a student who is better prepared will feel more confident toward an exam.

Likewise, students should make sure that they arrive early on the day of the test. Arriving early will allow students to take inventory of their materials and settle in the classroom.

The main anxiety alleviating technique that DuRant focused on in her presentation involved meditation.

DuRant said when most students hear the word meditation they think of a yogi sitting cross-legged on the floor making humming sounds. While this is a form of meditation, she encourages students to keep an open mind and to explore the different forms that meditation has to offer.

“You really have to commit to it because the first few times that you do it, it can be really strange,” Durant said. “We know that meditation changes your brain chemistry. People who have anxiety in their life, if they learn to meditate, [meditation] absolutely can be monumentally changing for them.”

During the presentation, students listened to an audio track of a guided visualization meditation technique. The track guided students through the process of meditation, giving them step-by-step instructions to focus on their breathing and to imagine themselves walking into the day of the test confident and prepared.

DuRant encourages students to try the meditation techniques and seek out its benefits. 

“Learning to meditate significantly improves concentration and focus, so if you’re a person that struggles a bit with that because maybe your attention is divided or if you struggle with ADD or ADHD, then meditation can help. It’s just being able to quiet your mind to learn to focus.”

For students who do not find the idea of meditation right for them, there are still activities they can participate in to help alleviate test anxiety including taking a yoga class in the Aggie Rec Center.

Above all, DuRant wants students to know that test anxiety can’t always be eliminated, but it can be controlled.

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