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  1. #1
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    Default Advice for someone who "doesn't test well"

    Recently found out why very intelligent niece has not advanced in her college education. She doesn't test well, she panics or has a brain freeze. Sorry don't have more information at this time of what is actually happening. Finally got this info from her dad, my brother.

    She is smart, studies well, and knows her subjects. She has worked in the hospital both on the floors and in the ER. All love and respect her knowledge and work ethic. So it isn't that she is a slacker. But this explains why she hasn't gotten that far in her college education.

    I don't know if there is a process by which folks can overcome this or if there are alternatives for testing. Any ideas or suggestions are greatly appreciated.
    "Never do anything that you have to explain twice to the paramedics."
    Courtesy my cousin Tim



  2. #2
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    She should review the material over and over and over and over and over and over until she is comfortable taking the test. That is what I did, and it worked. She should take notes and read them over and over, etc. Also, READ the chapter of the subject. She needs to read it and read it over and over and over it until she knows it so well, there is no hestitation of her getting scared.

    Also, before a test, I look at the test. Read through it. Set it down. Look at it again, and pick and choose the easiest to answer first. Or I do the HARDEST one.

    I have 2 business degrees now. I have taken thousands of online tests, also in class quizzes. I still get nervous, but rely on me studying and knowing the material in and out. These days they want you to be able to think outside the box, not necessarily the nuts and bolts, but they want you to learn the concept of the theory and be able to apply it to a given situation.

    Have others quiz her.

    She just may not be studying, and trying to wing it. Just saying . . . .


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  3. #3
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    rmh_rider, that may not work. There is a difference between the kind of anxiety that it sounds like this girl is suffering from versus normal nerves.

    I agree with lots of your suggestions, especially having others quiz her. Similarly, if she can talk it through with someone listening - essentially teaching it to that person - that can help.

    But as someone who studied like crazy for some of my subjects and still had anxiety to the point of nausea, I wouldn't blow it off as just trying to wing it.


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  4. #4
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    Have her utilize the study skills/tutoring/educational therapy programs offered at her college (presuming they offer them and she's still enrolled). Also, she should make a habit of going to office hours and study sessions. If it really is a case of knowing but not being able to perform, these should give her strategies she can use and a sense of what she should know.



  5. #5
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    If you believe she has some sort of anxiety disorder and she can get a diagnosis from a doctor, most universities will provide test accommodations like extra time, a quiet private room, etc. If it isn't actually some sort of disorder, practice is pretty much all that will help. If she studies well, feels prepared and knows the material backwards and forwards then she just has to have confidence that she can relay it on a test. Practicing in timed, stressful situations will probably help her feel more confident and reduce the freezing.



  6. #6
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    Tell her to see the students with disabilities counselor. They can do testing and if it's warranted, give her extra time on tests and coping techniques.
    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." ~Immanuel Kant



  7. #7
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    Thanks for the responses.

    Speaking as a proud, loving aunt here. She is smart, she does study and know her subjects. It is a form of anxiety. I noticed some self-doubt in her but didn't fully understand until very recently.

    I will be able to talk to her face2face in a few weeks and hopefully have a better understanding. Unfortunately our home town is still silly in that help is available if you have from one of the "approved" families or have a strong advocate. Advocating for their kids is not one of my DB and SIL's fortes.
    "Never do anything that you have to explain twice to the paramedics."
    Courtesy my cousin Tim



  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by LauraKY View Post
    Tell her to see the students with disabilities counselor. They can do testing and if it's warranted, give her extra time on tests and coping techniques.
    Ditto on this. Her anxiety could be rooted in some sort of processing issue, for lack of a better set of words. In addition to extra time on tests and/or accommodations they can provide her with studying techniques and the like.

    If the tests come back negative, she can try other campus resources, such as counselors, College 101 type courses, etc. Practice tests, whether they be from the text book publisher or old exams from the instructor or other instructors or online resources can help reduce anxiety. You do need to sit down and attempt them in a way that mimics the actual test taking experience as much as possible: closed book, no water/food/phone/FB breaks, etc. I put my old tests online (both the originals and the keys) so they are there for everyone to use. Not all instructors do that and some don't return tests which makes getting ahold of that instructor's tests difficult to impossible. Some students find that doing the book problems over again helps them to start to recognize patterns in problems. It is very useful to be able to identify the type of problem you're dealing with so you know how to deal with it.
    The Evil Chem Prof


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  9. #9
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    Most colleges offer assistance for test anxiety. It's a common problem and there are techniques for improving your test taking. It also wouldn't hurt to use a little Rescue Remedy before the test. My neice had a math test that she had to pass to graduate from high school. It might have been a coincidence, but she did pass it when she took some Rescue Remedy.



  10. #10
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    Has she considered online classes? I find them a wonderful alternative to traditional stress classroom college settings. All testing is open note/open book as it is expected of the environment. I've been doing it for 3 semesters now, and have pulled all A's my last two semesters (first semester I had a B+ ) My problem wasn't stress per say but traditional classroom settings bored me terribly. I liked studying at my own pace, and moving on when I knew I had a concept down. And I'm not attending a hokey online program either; I'm attending IUE, part of Indiana University. Credit hours are at a significantly discounted cost as well. I love the forum setting for interacting with peers (otherwise I tend to be an introvert), and feel right in my element with the significant amount of writing most online classes require. If she is an independant type who can devote the time to learning without a set schedule, she might like to look into it.
    And kudos for being a concerned Aunt. She's lucky to have you.
    http://www.iuonline.edu/



  11. #11
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    I would definitely suggest she seek professional help from Student Health or Counseling Services. I can only give you anecdotal experience but please suggest she speak with someone at her school. I made it through honors and AP classes in HS and 4 years of college (on a full academic scholarship) with no real testing issues, but I got to vet school and gradually started melting down before exams. As in, laying awake at night before an exam with my heart racing, waking up in tears the morning of an exam, imagining insanely irrational scenarios that might befall me on my way to school that might get me out of the exam, being physically ill right before or during exams... really not healthy stuff, and it occurred irrespective of how well I had studied and/or knew the material. She may just be putting so much pressure on herself that she is shutting down. As soon as I started talking to someone in Counseling Services I felt better and, while they suggested anti-anxiety medications initially, I ended up improving a tremendous amount just with talking to someone a few times a month. It's not anxiety I've experienced in any other aspect of life and it's so, so frustrating, especially for someone who is used to doing things well. I made it through and my grades etc were fine, but I wish I had sought help sooner, I would have enjoyed my classes much, much more!
    If it were easy, everybody would do it.

    Equi-Sport Services



  12. #12
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    I've been out of college a long time- but a few things that helped me were to:
    1. split the test into 1/4s and set a smaller goal of covering each section in 1/5th of the time -then I'd have extra if something was stumping me to back to.
    2. start on a good note- find an easy question or two and answer them.
    3. if a question is stumping you star it and move on- when you're done with the ones you know go back and hit the starred ones.
    4. I would also circle questions I thought I had right but wanted to double check. (I left no mark on the ones I was confident with.)

    That allowed me to triage the test and make sure I answered all of the easy questions before I spent a lot of time struggling with harder ones- especially if they are all worth the same amount of points.

    I hope you can help find her a solution that makes it easier for her!



  13. #13
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    Every college has a Students with Disabilities Center. It's there to be used. Some are better than others, but every school has one. Tell her to use it, tell her to be persistent. The help is there, she just has to ask for it.
    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." ~Immanuel Kant



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4Martini View Post
    I've been out of college a long time- but a few things that helped me were to:
    1. split the test into 1/4s and set a smaller goal of covering each section in 1/5th of the time -then I'd have extra if something was stumping me to back to.
    2. start on a good note- find an easy question or two and answer them.
    3. if a question is stumping you star it and move on- when you're done with the ones you know go back and hit the starred ones.
    4. I would also circle questions I thought I had right but wanted to double check. (I left no mark on the ones I was confident with.)

    That allowed me to triage the test and make sure I answered all of the easy questions before I spent a lot of time struggling with harder ones- especially if they are all worth the same amount of points.
    I wish that they taught common sense in schools.

    Go thru answer all the easy questions first (don't stall, panic, and waste time and get anxious on a difficult question).

    You'll be amazed, maybe you answered 80 - 90% the first time thru. The easy run gives you the feel for the gist/slant of the test and also may give you hints for other answers, the test speak so to say.

    It helps you to relax, you know that you have a majority of the test already finished, and you now have the remaining time and the confidence to go back and tackle the harder questions.

    Your niece does seem to have more problem than normal. The advice to seek help is good. That's great that you notice and care. I hope that she can appreciate your sincerity.
    The truth is what you can get other people to believe.

    -- Tommy Smothers



  15. #15
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    I used to teach university chemistry classes on the side in addition to my day job, and there were students who went through this sort of thing. Some students were allowed to take my exams under "extended time" where they got time and a half, or double time to take the tests.

    Most universities and colleges will have an office with professionals who will help assess this sort of thing. It's definitely possible to work through it...



  16. #16
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    Cognitive behavioral therapy has been successful with anxiety for many years. It tends to be short term therapy. Learning test taking skills help, but first the underlying anxiety needs to be addressed.

    As have said, most colleges and universities will accomodate students with testing anxiety. There does have to be some self-advocacy.
    Where Norwegian Fjords Rule
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  17. #17
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    In addition to all the great ideas above, maybe she also needs to "learn" how to test? Say, practice tests in an un-graded situation? Practice going thru and answering the easy questions first?

    Of course, she will need to get some coping mechanisms or meds to help with anxiety if it's that debilitating.

    And it might help her to over study a bit, to really feel as if she knows the material very well going into the exam. If she can figure out whether she's a visual learner (or other type of learner), she can use that to her advantage.
    Born under a rock and owned by beasts!



  18. #18
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    I do not suffer from test anxiety, but have always had a hard time getting focused on the task at hand. I found it helps a lot to get my brain/attention working by doing unrelated, intellectual, tasks before the test starts.

    Arrive 15 minutes early to the testing room and do crosswords, puzzles, word puzzles, Soduko, whatever you enjoy. I think it helps get that connection between brain and pencil working and helps drive random thoughts of other things our of my head, including worrying about what will be on the test. That way, when the test arrives on my desk, I can start right in on it, rather than wasting time getting myself to focus. Working the easiest questions on the test first also helps...not only do you make sure you get all the points you can, but that can also help build confidence and task focus for the tougher questions.



  19. #19
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    Does the Princeton Review have classes for general studies??
    If so I HIGHLY recommend finding a tutor from the Princeton Review! I have a genius friend who is one of their Master Tutors and he said that a lot of the classes are "strategy" classes and teaching the "how's" of test taking.

    I hate school. I hate tests. I used to take them well and then when I turned 20 it all went to pot. Not sure why.
    I won't continue my education because of this.

    A lot of it is an ADD issue for me. I don't want to sit and read the questions...and take the time to think.
    Put me next to a window and I can't get anything accomplished. "oh look at the pretty birdies!!"
    Just reading the questions gives me anxiety because I want to be done with it.

    I have the Tosh.O 2011 tour on DVD. LOVE IT. He has a bit about bad test taking. It's pretty funny. Cracks me up every time I watch it.
    Don't be insulted. It's just comedy. : )
    http://www.comedycentral.com/jokes/y...bad-test-taker
    http://kaboomeventing.com/
    http://kaboomeventing.blogspot.com/
    Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!



  20. #20
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    It should be remembered that Colleges /Universities are money machines...they need the student's tuition so they do have a vested interest that they protect their income sources... the learning centers sprung up after it was discovered that many of the students entering were completely ill prepared for the courses.


    Pass/Fail is a good way to take courses that are not within the field of major



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