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Finding Your Academic GROOVE

Does starting a new school year and adjusting to a new teacher and classmates feel like going to the dentist? Do tests make you sweat, lose sleep, and forget to eat properly? Do you have dread, hesitation, or downright fear about school?

Now is the time to turn the page on school, academics, and homework. Today you can learn skills that will make school easier, more fun, and not as frightening. Begin with testing. Do you know over 60% of K-12 students regularly experience test anxiety? Many students believe they will not do well on standardized tests and by thinking such negative thoughts, they also produce negative results. Tests, perhaps are not the most important things we do at school, but certainly do influence our self image, opportunities, and promotions in school. Doing well on tests may seem like something you have little or no control over, but it is not so. So how does the successful student prepare for a test?

Tests are something we all must go through. Tests help teachers find out where you are at when you begin their class and compare it to where you have progressed by the end of the class. Tests are designed to reveal how much we know and what areas we still need to grow in. But testing rarely draws a true picture of the strength and skills of the individual. Generally tests only show us perceived weakness and grounds for having to re-do or repeat some class or grade. The results can be personally devastating if something goes wrong and we are not able to show our best side on the test page.

What can you do to make testing easier and grades better? First, be prepared; mentally, physically, and emotionally. Do not take an important exam if you are:

* Tired
* Hungry
* Emotionally upset or depressed
* Distracted
* Afraid
* Ill.

Take time each day after class to review your assignments and notes. Yes, Notes. You should take notes during classes. Note taking helps you focus, repeat the important information, and prepare for the tests. It allows you to be more organized if you are studying more than one subject, and it allows you to reflect and form intelligent questions for your teacher which can be ask at an appropriate time near the end of the class or lecture, instead of an interruption. Note taking can be a valuable tool in preparing for any test. By reviewing your notes you can aid you mind in remember and clarifying information, and in separating ideas from other class work.

Eat well, get a good night's sleep before, and drink lots of water. You cannot do well at a test if your body is hungry, tired, or fatigued. Take care of yourself by eating good healthy food, especially in the 1-2 hours right before a test. One research study shows high school students improved their test scores by having a small amount of a sugary food 20 minutes before testing. Another study revealed students improving test scores 30% just by drinking two large glasses of water right before testing. You too can significantly improve any test score by being mentally and physically at your peak before the testing event.

Relax. Stress is an element that adversely affects test scores. Breath deeply, say your prayers or whatever helps you to calm and collect yourself inwardly. Be happy. Laugh a little. These things also help us break tension and reduce stress. You will do your best at any skill when you are confident, so build your confidence. Start telling yourself you WILL do well. Doubts build up your own stress and anxiety levels unnecessarily.

Read ahead. Most students will do somewhat better on a test if they take the extra bit of time to read completely through the test questions before starting. This gives you the overall big picture of the test and allows you to apply strategy. If you don't know all the questions, work on the ones you do know first. Then go back to the more difficult ones and apply your best reasoning and rational thoughts to finding the answer. With multiple choice questions often the right answers can be discovered by the process of eliminating the wrong answers, and playing the odds. If you have four possible answers to pick from, your "odds" of just picking the right answer randomly is just 25% or 1:4. But if you know two of the answers given are incorrect you have improved you odds of being right to 50%, or 1:2! Play the odds on all questions you don't know. You will get a percentage of them right by doing this. Also reading the whole test helps calm and focus your mental abilities and reduces anxiety.

Basically there really is not a good substitute for knowing the materials that will be on the test. Still there are many ways to help yourself pass or do your best on any test. Don't stress, don't work against yourself with negative thoughts like "I can't do it," and don't give up! You are a lot smarter and more talented than you ever really imaged. Shine on that test by being organized, prepared, and confident. The rest is just a passing grade....You Can do it! Good luck.


I would like to invite students and family of special needs students to meet with me for a free initial consultation before setting up tutoring. I believe students don't often get the amount of one:one help they need from teachers to succeed, because teachers are just too busy! Don't get behind, or start feeling hopeless. You can get the extra help you need outside school to make the grades you desire and do your homework in a timely way that will reflect in better grades. Tutoring works. :)

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