How_To_Deal_With_Math_Test_Anxiety

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How To Deal With Test Anxiety
By
Professor Marcia Tharp, Ph. D.
What is test anxiety?
According to Paul Nolting Test Anxiety is a learned
response. That means we learn to fear a situation in
this case taking a test. Sometimes this fear shows up
as sweaty palms and blocked thinking before or
during a test. Some people cry! Other people actually
can make themselves sick over a coming test.
Similarly people have learned to fear many things
such as heights or flying on an airplane.
BUT THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT THESE
FEARS CAN BE UNLEARNED!
Who has Test Anxiety?
Math test anxiety can affect adults as well as
children. It also affects men as well as women.
It may be enhanced if you have math anxietythat is a fear of doing math to begin with. But
if you have a poor math background it is more
likely you will have math anxiety and math test
anxiety.
Here is a way you can see if you
have Math Test Anxiety.
Try this test. Answer yes or no to the following questions.
There are no correct answers and this does not count for a
grade. So relax!
1. Do you have sweaty palms, or an upset stomach, or pain in
the neck or stiff shoulders or feelings of nervousness during a
math test? Yes or No
2. Do you draw a blank at the beginning of taking a math test?
Yes or No
3. Do you feel you must rush to be the first person finished
during a math test? Yes or No
4. Do you have negative self talk during a math test in which you
put your self down and loose focus on recalling the math
concepts you need? Yes or No
Here is a way you see if you have
Math Test Anxiety.
Try this test. Answer yes or no to the following questions.
There are no correct answers and this does not count for a
grade. So relax!
5. Do you avoid math tests by being sick on the day of the test
intentionally? Yes or No
6. Do you use all the time given to take a test? Yes or No
7. Do you feel the need to leave a math test early? Yes or No
8. Do you avoid doing math homework because it brings up
anxiety about doing math? Yes or No
Review your results.
If you answered yes to any one of these
questions you may have math test anxiety.
Now continue to see why people have math
test anxiety.
Why do people have Math Test
Anxiety?
There are many reasons a student can have math test anxiety.
However please remember that you are not born with Math Test
Anxiety. It is a learned response!
A person who has math test anxiety may have:
Had a bad elementary school math experience.
been embarrassed by a teacher or peer. They may have been
made fun of for their math abilities.
had a teacher who insisted that there was only one way to
complete a problem and they had another logical way to do it.
had parents, teachers or significant others with unreasonable
expectations of them. These level of expectations may have been
either too high or too low.
Why do people have Math Test
Anxiety?
There are many reasons a student can have math test anxiety.
However please remember that you are not born with Math Test
Anxiety. It is a learned response!
A person who has math test anxiety may have:
been associating their self worth with a number grade.
felt a lack of control and inability to change their life situation.
taken timed tests and feared they could not finish their work
even when they could do all the problems.
been placed in a math class above their level of understanding.
What can I do about it?
Here are some strategies for dealing with math test anxiety.
Try some relaxation techniques. Here is a link to a web
page that will help you to learn to relax. I suggest you do
this for 15 minutes a day for at least two weeks prior to a
test. Use the Relaxation Response during your next test.
Link to the Relaxation Response
http://www.ucop.edu/humres/eap/relaxationrespone.html
What can I do about it?
Here are some strategies for dealing with math test anxiety.
Use deep breathing to relieve stress immediately.
You will relax and at the same time get more oxygen in
to your brain where it is needed. Again you will need to
practice this for at least a week before taking a math
test.
Link to how to use Deep Breathing
http://www.deepsloweasy.com/html/intro.htm
What can I do about it?
Here are some strategies for dealing with math test anxiety.
Replace your”negative self talk” with positive
statements about your ability to do math and take
math tests.
Link to how to deal with negative self talk:
http://www.mathtutor.eku.edu/negtalk.htm
What can I do about it?
Here are some strategies for dealing with math test anxiety.
During a test focus your attention away from yourself
and your performance and back to the problem you are
working on.
Do this by clapping your hands or mentally telling your
self to STOP! Next choose a problem on the test that you
are familiar with and know is an easy problem to do.
Remember that everyone is in the same boat with you and
must work to get their solutions too. It is o.k. Take your
time and breathe deep!
What can I do about it?
Here are some strategies for dealing with math test anxiety.
Be sure to start studying for your exams early.
Research shows that the more hours you devote to
reviewing for a test the more likely you are to do well
on it. Do not wait until the last minute. A weekly
review of everything you have learned that week will
help you to be ready for math tests.
Remember even though you may have learned to relax for a
test you will still need to know and understand the
information you are being tested on. So test relaxation and
studying are equally important to your success!
References
Math Study Skills Workbook by Paul Nolting,
Ph. D. 2000, Houghton Mifflin Co. Boston MA
Over Coming Math Anxiety Second Edition by
Randy Davidson and Ellen Levitov,2000
Addison Wesley Reading MA
Study Skills Workbook by Dianna L. Hestwood
and Linda C. Russell from the Basic College
Mathematics Sixth Edition, 2002 Addison
Wesley Boston MA
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