Generally, the best thing about sitting an exam is the ‘Push’ sign on the door on the way out.
Anxiety and exams tend to come as a package deal. (And if exam performance don’t make you anxious then most likely you’re way past caring/ too well prepared. In the case of the latter – a tilt of the hat to you.)
The human mind only has a limited amount of resources available to devote to any one task at a time. With anxiety comes intrusive thoughts that consume some of those mental resources, leaving leaves less available to retrieve the information that has been studied.
Anything that interferes with effective memory retrieval will potentially compromise performance.
Researchers have now found a quick and easy way to reduce test anxiety and improve test performance – look through the exam before working on it.
Anxiety is a shapeless, faceless foe, fuelled by what-ifs and unknowns what might be hovering. The negative thoughts that come with anxiety tend to be dirty little liars, always implying that trouble is around the bend.
By reading through a test straight up, anxiety about what the exam might contain is reduced. True, some questions might still have teeth, but provided the work has been done beforehand, this will always less than imagined.
With anxiety reduced, the working memory resources that are consumed by intrusive thoughts are freed up, making more resources available for the test and ensuring peak exam performance.
Now of course, all the working memory resources in the world won’t find the right answers if they were put there solidly in the first place.
But here’s something that might help with that.