Quizzes, tests, and exams. Oh, my! Overcoming test anxiety

Ever had that churning feeling in your stomach just before a test begins? Ever break out in a sweat as your instructor passes out the midterm? Ever feel like skipping a class because a quiz is scheduled?

Those feelings are the worst. They can make you feel like you failed before you even start.

Well, don’t worry. There are things you can do (besides running away screaming) that can help you deal with the dreaded condition of test anxiety.

Test anxiety is a nervousness or fear experienced before, during, or after a test because of distress, worry, or panic. Almost everyone experiences some nervousness. But some students find that anxiety interferes with their learning and test-taking to such a level that their grades suffer.

Fortunately, there are many things that you can do to keep the anxiety from interfering with your goals. First, it’s important to know that you don’t have to eliminate it entirely. A certain level of anxiousness is good as it helps you stay motivated and focused on the test at hand.

Being prepared for the exam is more than half the battle when overcoming text anxiety. Attending class is crucial to test knowledge and performance. Know when tests dates are scheduled and what information will be covered in exams. Avoid cramming the day or night before a test. You will not retain information as easily by overloading your memory at the last second. Both long- and short-term memory come into play when retrieving information. Maintain a study routine that allows you to absorb information at a steady pace rather than all at once. Study in a location where you can concentrate, get interested in the material, and give it your complete attention. Limit distractions such as cell phones, televisions, and Internet. Take thorough notes and convert them into flash cards you can review several at a time. People learn differently—some people are visual (seeing) learners, some are auditory (hearing), and some are kinesthetic (hands-on).  Discover your best learning style and create a way to study around it. This will ensure that you are matching your study time to your learning style.

Be self-confident going into the test. Avoid thinking negative and self-defeating thoughts. Things such as “This teacher doesn’t like me” and “Everyone else is smarter than me” will only destroy your confidence and motivation. If you find that you have the tendency to do this, try writing these statements on a piece of paper, and then respond positively to yourself in another statement. Essentially, give your own pep talk. Set your mind up for success rather than failure.

Before the Test:

  • Take a practice test the day before with conditions as much like the test as possible.
  • Get enough sleep. Avoid caffeine which increases anxiety.
  • Stop negative thoughts and focus on positive statements.
  • Give yourself time to feel composed and to be on time for the exam.

During the Test:

  • Skim through the entire test, read the directions, plan your approach, and plan your time.
  • Start with the easiest questions first.
  • Focus your attention on the test. Don’t waste time and energy worrying, thinking about the consequences of not doing well, or wondering what others are doing.
  • If you don’t know an answer, mark the question and plan to come back to it later. Often, other questions will jog your memory to remember the answer.
  • If you start to feel anxious, close your eyes and take three or four deep breaths. Relax and continue to focus on the test, question by question.
  • If your time is running out, concentrate on those questions you know well and/or have the most weight.
  • Use all the time allowed for reviewing your answers and completing ideas. Only change answers if you are sure of yourself.

After the Test:

  • Learn from your performance. Make sure you understand the answers to questions you got wrong (a great reason to use office hours or discuss in a study group).

Give these ideas a try. They will help you in overcoming test anxiety. They also will make test day a breeze, and you might even look forward to it. (OK, probably not, but it won’t be nearly as big a deal).

Happy testing!

WDT enrollment increases 9.4 percent

More than 1,100 students—9.4 percent more than last year—call Western Dakota Tech their academic home this fall.

WDT’s enrollment of 1,115 makes this the third largest fall semester in WDT’s history.

“This is an exciting time for WDT,” President Mark Wilson said. “These enrollment figures show that students value the skills and experience a WDT education provides.”

WDT added additional class sections to handle the increase. In addition, WDT’s recent building expansion created larger labs for some programs and made additional classrooms available.

“Our campus expansion came at a perfect time,” Wilson said. “This expansion is providing additional lab and classroom space that allows WDT to provide education and training to even more students.”

WDT has seen enrollment increases in most programs. WDT’s newest program, HVAC Technology, also experienced a strong start.

“We are committed to quality programs and quality faculty so students have the best experience possible,” Wilson said. “We will continue working hard to make sure students are receiving the education they need for the careers they want.”

WDT’s placement numbers show WDT works. More than 98 percent of WDT’s most recent graduates are working, continuing their education, or serving in the military, and 90 percent remain in South Dakota.

“Placing students should be the ultimate gauge of success for any postsecondary institution,” Wilson said. “WDT is proud of how well our students do after they graduate.”

Western Dakota Tech is the only technical institute that serves the western South Dakota region. WDT offers more than 30 programs in a variety of fields, including Business and Computers, Construction and Manufacturing, Energy and Environmental Technologies, Health Sciences, Legal and Public Services, and Transportation Technologies.

WDT faculty, staff, and administration focus their efforts on helping students gain the skills and experiences they need to succeed. Through hands-on learning, internships, and industry partnerships, WDT students graduate ready to make real and immediate contributions to their employers and their communities.

For information about WDT, call (800) 544-8765 or (605) 718-2565 or send an email to admissions@wdt.edu. Visit WDT on the web at www.wdt.edu.