How to reduce test anxiety

Most students experience some level of anxiousness when taking a test, but it is when it interferes with test performance that it is deemed excessive and labeled as ‘test anxiety.’ Test anxiety is often defined in physiological terms: sweaty palms, going blank, butterflies, lightheadedness and other symptoms that mirror illness.

If you find yourself displaying symptoms of test anxiety, there are methods and tips to follow that can help reduce your stress level.

• Take an honest look at your study skills and develop areas that are weaker to ensure successful learning efficiency. If you are easily distracted, work on focus. If you have trouble making time to study, carve out a study schedule, and stick to it.

• Be prepared. The more time you give yourself to prepare and learn the material the more confident you will feel the day of the exam. Avoid the last minute cram session. The more time you have spent working through the material, the more comfortable you will be with it.

• Keep organized and on task. Keep to a schedule so that you know internally that you gave yourself enough time to study.

• Get enough sleep starting two nights before the exam. Roughly six to eight hours are recommended for the average person, but if you feel better with more, try to get more.

• Keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Stress headaches can be set off by dehydration.

• Exercise to help eliminate stress. Even a short daily walk can help to release negative internal tension.

• Eat well balanced meals. Make sure you eat breakfast or lunch before the exam with at least 20 minutes to digest your food. Do not eat greasy foods or drink caffeinated drinks they may upset your stomach.

• Stay relaxed by practicing deep breathing techniques.

On the day of the exam, keep the following tips in mind to reduce test anxiety:

• Give yourself enough time to get to the exam and find a comfortable seat. Get your writing utensils ready (have a few extra on hand) and any paper or supplies that you may need. Take a couple of minutes to close your eyes and take a couple of deep breaths.

• Do not discuss the material with other students who may make you second guess your knowledge of the material.

• Do not bring your class materials with you. Going through the test information at the last second will only make you nervous.

Test anxiety while taking the exam can happen. Stay focused by implementing the following techniques:

• Review the entire exam before answering any questions. Read the instructions twice to be clear on what is expected.

• Occasionally stretch so that your body stays relaxed.

• If your mind goes blank then put your pencil down, sit up straight, take two or three deep breaths, then pick up your pencil again and begin. If you don’t immediately recognize the question then go on to the next, and come back to the question that stumped you later.

• Stay positive and remind yourself that you studied appropriately and that you know the material.

• Remind yourself that some anxiety is normal and stay confident that you know the material.

• Try to not pay attention to others movements or if they turn in their exams before you. You do not get points for being the first one to turn in your exam. Take the time that you need to not only stay relaxed, but to give each question the focus it needs.

By following the above tips, you can help to alleviate your test anxiety. With practice, patience, and focus, you can overcome excessive apprehension that you may feel when taking a test. For additional assistance please contact our Student Success Center.

The First Week of School – Start with Good Learning Habits

With the heat of summer upon us, it is hard to believe that school will soon be in session once again. The first week of school is critical for starting off the semester with good habits. Starting off on the wrong foot can start a downward spiral that can be difficult to overcome. Use the following tips to get the semester started off right.

Take Responsibility

At WDT there’s no one looking over your shoulder or holding your hand to make sure you get off on the right foot. It’s all up to you—and your feet. Our staff is here to help in any way we can, but you need to let us know what challenges you may be having.

Attend Class

In a class that meets 30 times in a semester, each lesson has about 3 percent of the content. If you miss the first week, you are already 8 percent behind. Every professor is on a different timeline, and it is important that you are on board.

Know Your Limits

Some classes, especially those concerning math and science, are taught at many different levels. Be sure you haven’t signed up for a class that’s either too hard or too easy for you, given your prior training and abilities. Placement tests and course numbers aren’t always right, so trust your own sense of the course. Make changes early if necessary and avoid a disaster later in the semester.

Use the Syllabus

The syllabus can give you the inside track on what counts and what doesn’t. In some courses, the syllabus contains important clues about what will be on the tests, within the course’s written goals and objectives. Be alert to these tip-offs about what the professor deems as important. Often, the syllabus will contain the value of each class activity toward your final grade. This will help you to focus your energy appropriately.

Take Note

Get into the habit early of writing everything down from the very first meeting of the class. Keeping your hands moving will help you actively engage with the lecture and form questions. If it is a hands on class, be sure to actively participate.

Plan Ahead

Get out your calendar (paper or electronic) and mark all the important dates: the dates and times of all your exams, your professors’ office hours, paper due dates, and WDT holidays and vacations. Be on the lookout for possible conflicts, which should be resolved right away.

Designate a Study Zone

It’s not too early to scope out a quiet place where you’ll do your studying. And when you get there, turn off the gadgets. It is easy to be distracted by devices by way of texting, Facebook, IM, Twitter, and many more. Allow yourself five minutes at the end of every hour if you can’t keep them off. But, after five minutes, be strict with yourself to power down again.

Most professors do assign homework for the first week of classes and actually expect you to do it, even if there’s not a test or quiz until the fourth week. First impressions do matter, and putting forth effort in the beginning will benefit not only your habits, but your final grade. So get off to a good start, and keep in mind that you are investing in your future.

Dual enrollment for high school students

If you are currently a high school sophomore or junior, you may want to consider dual enrollment at Western Dakota Tech. While you can still take high school classes and participate in high school activities, this opportunity will allow you to get a step ahead in your post high school education. This means the potential for earlier graduation, and experience in the work force. Read on for more benefits of dual enrollment courses at Western Dakota Tech.

1. Dual enrollment will give you an idea of what course work will be like in college. The academic environment is different from high school, and allows for more freedom and flexibility.

2. You may have the opportunity to take courses that are not offered in high school.

3. It will allow you to get a better feel for the area of your academic interest. For example, if you took a general healthcare class in high school, healthcare courses offered at WDT can give you more insight if you think that is the career path you wish to take.

4. Many students change their field of study at least once. By taking a couple of dual enrollment classes, you can narrow down what you would like to choose as your field of study, before having the pressure to decide upon high school graduation.

5. Perhaps the largest benefit to dual enrollment is that you may begin accumulating credits for program requirements, allowing you to take lighter course loads through your schooling, or graduate early.

6. It is cost effective. Rapid City Area School students who are at least a junior and in good academic standing can take all courses free of charge, except for the nine Regent General Education courses, which are $40 per credit hour.

There are many benefits to dual enrollment at Western Dakota Tech, along with still being able to enjoy the high school experience.
If you are interested in WDT’s dual enrollment program, or for the dual enrollment application, please visit the Western Dakota Tech website.