LEARNING ASSISTANCE CENTER
Do you FEAR math?
Do you get anxious when you have a math test?
Here are some great ways to reduce your anxiety!
Before the test
- Know what you need to know.
The unknown or unexpected is usually what you fear when taking a test. So, ask the instructor what pages to review and what kind of problems you should know. Don't skip problems just because you don't like them or they are difficult.
- No Cramming.
Don't cram for tests. Begin reviewing several days in advance. Dig out your class notes and be sure you understand the concepts. Work on practice tests or chapter tests in the textbook. Go to the Learning Lab and use the math computer programs. See a tutor to help you review.
- The night before the test:
Review what you have already studied. Don't stay up late! Make your study time the last thing for the night. Research shows that the last thing on your mind before sleep will stay with you through the sleep cycle.
- The morning of the test:
Eat a decent breakfast. Have a bagel instead of a donut - sugary food can cause sluggishness. Eat a piece of fruit or cereal instead of that fried egg because greasy foods can upset your stomach. Research shows that caffeine can improve short term reasoning in the short term, so enjoy a cup of Starbucks if you are a coffee drinker.
- Right before the test:
Write out a "calming card", a card that reminds you that you are prepared, you have studied, you are relaxed and YOU ARE READY. Avoid talking to others if they are excited or worried about the test.
During the test
Be early so you can sit where you are most comfortable. Avoid sitting near distractions like a window or doorway.
- Before you begin:
Read the instructions carefully - even if what you should do seems obvious.
- Working on the test:
Gear up by beginning with a problem that is familiar to you and you are confident you can work correctly. Focus your attention on the problem you are working on. Recognize and stop negative thoughts from interrupting you. SHOW ALL YOUR WORK. It is easier to catch any careless and obvious mistakes. Review each problem after you have finished it for the careless errors. Multiple-choice tests require just as much as other tests. Write out the solution on scratch paper. Then look for the match to your answer.
After the test
- Give yourself a pat on the back!
You deserve it for working hard.
- When the test is returned:
Don't just file it away. Go over the problems you missed. Make sure you understand what you did wrong. And, besides, maybe the instructor made an error in grading!
- Test grade:
If you don't get the grade you wanted, remember that the most learning often comes from making mistakes. Success or lack of it on one test does not predict the success on the next test. You still have time to learn and do well next time.
Just reducing anxiety on its own is not a guarantee of success. But along with hard work, getting help when you need it, and managing your time well, you will be on your way!
A good note-taker uses a systematic approach to taking and reviewing notes. This can add to understanding and remembering the content of lectures.
Before the class
- Develop a mind-set geared toward listening.
- Test yourself on the previous lecture while waiting for the next one to begin.
- Skim relevant reading assignments to acquaint yourself with main ideas, new technical terms, etc.
- Do what you can to improve physical and mental alertness: fatigue, hunger, time of day, where you sit in the classroom. All of these affect motivation.
- INTEND TO LISTEN.
During the class: Stay tuned in
- Listen for the structure as well as information in the lecture.
- Look for speakers’ visual and postural clues, which indicate what is important.
- Ask questions or write them down for further clarification when you disagree or are unsure.
- Leave large empty spaces in your notes for information you have missed.
- If the instructor talks too fast, focus your attention on key points. Choose what you think is important and DON'T PANIC or tune out.
- Stay to the end instead of closing your notebook early and getting ready to leave, and listen carefully to information given toward the end of the class; summary statements may highlight the main points.
- Sit in front of the classroom if you have difficulty concentrating. Maintain eye contact with the instructor when possible.
- Have a useful system of taking notes. (See the Skills Development instructor or a tutor in the LAC if you need information on various systems.)
After the class: Review and fill-in
- Clear up any questions raised by the lecture by asking the teacher or classmates.
- Fill in missing points or misunderstood terms from text, classmates, or other sources.
- Edit your notes, labeling main points, adding recall clues and questions to be answered within 24 hours of class.
- Highlight key points in the notes with different colors of ink.
- Note your ideas and reflections, keeping them separate from those of the speaker in margins, on a separate sheet.
- Form study sessions once or twice a week or sign up for a study group through Tutorial Services to review omissions, clear up misinterpretations, and get other students’ opinions and interpretations.
- Review your notes: glance at your recall clues and see how much you can remember before rereading the notes.
- Make up and answer possible test questions.
As you get involved with the complexities of note taking, you may tend to forget the simple things that can make life a lot easier. These tips are little hints that we all know but forget sometimes. They can be summarized by four concepts.
Familiarity increases your ability to pick out key points.
- BE ALERT - so you are aware of and prepared for the lecture content and situation.
- BE ORDERLY - so you can process the lecture now and for review later.
- BE SYSTEMATIC - so you can establish a habit pattern and won't miss anything important.
- BE UP TO DATE - so that your well-designed note taking system gets done.
Below is a list of tips which may help you to be alert, orderly, systematic, and up-to-date.
- Attend lectures regularly. Once you miss one, it will be easier to miss more.
- Use a standard 8.5" x 11" loose-leaf notebook, for continual organization and review.
- Keep the notes for one class separate from other classes. Even better, keep each class in a separate binder.
- Write on one side of the paper for easier organization. It's possible to overlook material written on the back of a sheet.
- Leave your notebook at home and carry with you only enough pages to keep track of the lecture. This way you won't lose your entire set of notes should you misplace your notebook.
- Don't doodle because it distracts. Keep eye contact when not writing.
- Make notes as complete as needed and as clear as possible so they can be used meaningfully later.
- Leave blanks where information is missed or misunderstood. Fill in gaps after lecture or as soon after as possible with the aid of the instructor or classmates.
- Use symbols such as asterisks for emphasis.
- Mark or separate assignments given in class in a space apart from the lecture notes.
- Separate your thoughts from those of the lecture; record your own items after the lecture.
- Record examples where helpful.
- Listen especially at the end of the lecture. If the instructor has not paced the lecture well, half of the content may be crammed into the last 5-10 minutes.
- Get into the five-minute technique and review your notes right after class. At this time you can change, organize, add, delete, summarize, or clarify misunderstandings.
- Recopying notes by itself is a debatable advantage but the five-minute technique is not debatable. It works!
- Have study sessions once a week or sign up for study groups through Tutorial Services to learn omissions, clear up misinterpretations and get other students’ opinions about interpretations.
PREVIEW-READ-RECALL at first glance seems to be an intricate and time-consuming process. However, it gets easier and faster with practice, ensures thorough learning and facilitates later "re-learning" when you review for exams. Give it a try!
WHY? If you give your mind a general framework of main ideas and structure, you will be better able to comprehend and retain the details you will read later.
1. Look quickly (10 minutes) over the following key parts of your textbook to see what it's all about and how it is organized.
- Front and back cover info
- Author's biographical data
- Table of Contents
- Introduction or Preface
2. Before you read each chapter, look over:
- First sentences of each paragraph (should give the main idea)
- Any diagrams, charts, etc.
- Conclusions or summaries
3. Then answer the following questions:
- What is this mainly about?
- How is it organized?
- How difficult is it?
- About how long will it take to read?
WHY? Being an active reader will involve you in understanding the material, combat boredom, and will increase retention.
- Set realistic goals and number of pages to be read.
- Divide your chapter into small sections (for example, 2 pages or 1 topic section), rather than try to read the whole chapter non-stop.
- Ask yourself a question before each paragraph or section, then seek its answer. This will give you a definite purpose for your reading. Try inverting the sub-heading or first sentence into question form, using "who," "what," "when," or "how" if necessary.
- Take breaks when you feel unable to stay with the material due to day-dreaming, drowsiness, boredom, hunger, etc. After a short break, you can return to your reading with more energy and alertness.
WHY? Research shows that 40-50% of the material we
read is forgotten very shortly (about 15 minutes) after we read it.
Immediate recall is an essential first step toward continued retention
of the material.
HOW? After reading each small section of material, choose one (or more) of the following methods:
- Recall mentally or recite orally the highlights of what you have read.
- Ask yourself questions (maybe the same ones you used to prepare before you read the section) and answer them in your own words.
- Underline and make marginal notes of the key words or phrases in the section. Underlining after you read is the best way to decide what is the most important information to remember.
- Make separate notes or outlines of what you have read. This technique often works for more technical material that you need to put in your own words.
- Form a study group through Tutorial Services to clarify concepts you do not understand.
PROCRASTINATION is a habit, not a fatal flaw. It takes persistence to change, but you can do it. Here's how:
Clarify Your Personal Goals
- Articulate and write down your personal goals. Post them on your door, mirror, and notebook so you'll see them frequently.
- Be sure the task you think you "should" do is one that is really important to you, that leads you to your goal.
Manage Your Time Effectively
- If you don't know how to manage your time, learn. Consult an academic counselor or meet with an LAC tutor.
- Break your goal up into little parts. Write out and list the steps you must take to accomplish your goal.
- Establish a regular time each day to work toward your goal. Get out of a disorganized lifestyle and make working toward your goal part of your routine.
- Organize your environment, complete with the tools you'll need, so it's conducive to working. Or, move yourself to an environment which is conducive to working.
- If you aren't sure how to reach your goal, learn. For example, if you aren't clear about an assignment, plan to consult with your professor. Build this appointment into your schedule.
- Start early. Build procrastination time into your schedule.
- Start small and easily. Build gradually.
Change Your Attitude
- Do you feel that the world is too difficult?
That you are inadequate to meet its challenges?
That you cannot function without a lot of approval? These are immobilizing, self-defeating, avoidance-producing attitudes and beliefs. Respond to them with self-enhancing beliefs and attitudes.
- Value you mistakes; don't judge them. What is curious, useful, interesting about them? What is worthwhile?
- Know your escapes and avoidances: Socializing? Reading? Getting lost online? Television? Day dreaming? Call yourself on them.
Change Your Behavior
- Use your friends. Set up a contract with someone to get something done. Make an appointment to study with a friend who has no difficulty studying. Arrange to meet with a friend for support, someone who will listen and who will share your highs and lows.
- Make something you normally do and enjoy contingent upon doing the avoided task: "I'll work on my term paper in the library half an hour before going to play racquetball."
- Keep your tasks visible in front of you: set up reminders, signs, slogans, notes, and lists.
- Use your impulsiveness. When you get going, keep going. Do something when you think of it, don't think about it. Do instant, tiny things.
- Do something daily. Agree to start a project and stay with it for 5 minutes. Consider another 5 minutes after that.
- Establish priorities among tasks according to the degree of unpleasantness. Start with the most unpleasant task and work down until you get to the easier ones.
- Be sure the rest of your life is in good shape.
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|LEARNING ASSISTANCE CENTER
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Last Updated: November 8, 2014