Mastering the Test

How do you deal with test anxiety? Does being anxious make you better at a test or worse? Is test anxiety part of the fight/flight behaviour?

I don’t really know – I’m sure there is tons of research on it as well as volumes of self-help books – but at the end of the day, we must all find a way to be our own best teachers. To internalize and integrate into our lives the lessons that we have understood.

I continue to learn and consequently to not internalize and integrate the knowledge that my anxiety about testing makes me perform at less than peak possible progress. I passed the practical part (driving) of my UK driver’s license exam today. I passed with 4 minor faults – I think you can have up to 15 minor faults and still pass. So, 4 is pretty good. Not flawless – but reasonable for someone who has been driving for 31 years.

However, this is the second time I took the test. I failed the first time.

I failed with the same number of faults, 4. Three were minor and one was a serious fault that required failure of the test. It was not a dangerous situation – but was clearly (even to me) a serious fault. But rather than dwell on why I failed, I’d rather think now on why I passed – or even why I didn’t pass before? (nb: this is a different view from why I failed)

I relaxed. I allowed myself the liberty of taking my time (within reason) and didn’t try to force anything or rush though it. As a consequence, I got the same number of faults – as i am still the same driver – but none were serious. So, why do I still need to remind myself to relax? Why are we not taught from an early age how to test? To master the test?

When I was in college first, I did poorly – even by my standards as I didn’t put enough effort into it and as such couldn’t make hide nor hair of the tests. I dropped out and went back to college 6 years later. I still didn’t put enough effort into my classes – but – I did much better on the tests. For at least this kind of testing, I had figured it out to some extent. I had learned how to listen and be aware of what was likely to be asked of me (“Is this going to be on the test?|”). If you have to ask that, you will surely fail.

Do we ever learn this? Is there perhaps a benefit to subjecting our children to battery after battery of standardized tests only because it gives them test taking skills that they will need in this life where we are constantly, throughout life, measuring ourselves in one test or another. I guess we just have to get used to it.

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