New Remedy for Test Anxiety

Late last week, the Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, published an article describing new research into test anxiety entitled “Researcher Finds Easy Solution for Test Anxiety”.  They found that those students with anxiety who had the chance to write about their feelings prior to the test, performed better on the exam.

Test anxiety can be debilitating for sufferers.  In one example, a student “remembers walking out of a linear algebra study session in college because she thought she was having a heart attack.”  Based on the idea that “worrying competes for computing power in the brain’s ‘working,’ or short term, memory,” and, as a result, “it can’t help a person recall all the information his brain stored in preparation for the test. It also affects the working memory’s ability to stay focused.”

The research showed a definite increase in grades.  “The University of Chicago researchers found that students who were prone to test anxiety improved their test grades by nearly one grade point from a B-minus to a B-plus, for example, if they were given 10 minutes before an exam to write about their feelings.”

This is a cheap, simple solution to help students deal with stress in an outcome intense world. It could have an impact on those taking the LSAT as well. While the improvement may not be dramatic (although 2/3 of a grade is pretty substantial), even a moderate increase could greatly impact admission to a school.

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2 Responses

  1. I am very thankful for Professor Kathe Klare’s directing our attention to this important research. It sort of makes common sense but I have to admit I have never suggested this to a test-anxious student.

  2. This is a great idea. I have had conversations with students who suffer from test anxiety, but I’ve never suggested that they actually write about their feelings. It’s definitely something to suggest to these students, who are clearly suffering.

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