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Exam fear among students; causes & its impactsExam fear is a very common phenomenon...

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nusratfarah | Valedictorian

Posted February 1, 2010 at 9:55 AM via web

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Exam fear among students; causes & its impacts

Exam fear is a very common phenomenon among many a students, and it has a disastrous effect, no doubt. But, have the authorities ever tried to think about the causes of the fear, to remove the fear & make exam an enjoyable task rather than a scaring one, to focus upon the students in order to make them capable to overcome their fear especially on weak students to make them stronger?

What's your opinion?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 1, 2010 at 10:41 AM (Answer #2)

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There is no real way to prevent students from having some fear if exams have any consequences for their future.  If you are taking a test that will help determine your grade, and if your grade means something to you, the test will always be scary to some extent.

It's like in playing sports -- if you care who wins, each thing you do is a bit scary because you care about the consequences if you make a mistake.

The only way to remove fear is to remove consequences, and that doesn't seem very practical.

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coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted February 1, 2010 at 1:20 PM (Answer #3)

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In some countries  there is now a far greater emphasis on 'coursework.' These are pieces of work carried out independently by the student over the course of the year. They are handed in for moderation or objective marking so that the effort/stress is spread out over the year.

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maadhav19 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted February 1, 2010 at 1:35 PM (Answer #4)

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I try to prep my students before an exam - not give away what's on the exam, but give them some idea of the format and example questions so when they start into the exam, it doesn't come as a surprise. This seems to cut down on anxiety, and lets them focus on the material. Also, since essays constitute a large portion of my exams, if the students go in knowing what I am looking for on an essay, they tend to write more substantive responses.

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scarletpimpernel | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 1, 2010 at 2:11 PM (Answer #5)

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Like Post #4 states, I try to prepare my students as thoroughly as possible for the exam by not only practicing with the type of questions they will encounter on the exam, but also by making the review fun.  For example, I hold a big Jeopardy-type tournament between the two sides of my classroom right before the exam.  This helps my students know exactly which categories they personally need more practice in and which ones they already know well.  I also create a massive, challenging word search which asks questions that are very similar to the type that students will see on the exam.

As far as preparing students for AP exams that I do not write myself, we practice A LOT during the school year so that students have a personal approach or strategy for multiple choice and essay questions that they have developed throughout the year.  Just having a strategy when you sit for an exam helps psychologically.

One more note, if you are asking about exams such as they give in South Korea at the end of a student's high school career which determine which college a student goes to and, therefore, what kind of job he or she will be able to get after earning a degree, I can say that you must simply practice as much as possible and then try to find some way to relax before you take the exam (possibly through physical activity, listening to music, etc.).  I know that when I taught in South Korea, this was an extremely stressful time for students, but some of them found comfort in knowing that they had done their best to prepare and must accept the challenge set before them.  It might also help to talk to students who just took the exam the year before to see what they did to relieve stress before the exam.

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marbar57 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted February 1, 2010 at 4:30 PM (Answer #6)

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I think the greatest fear students have about exams is a fear of failure.  They think if they fail the tests, they will fail the course!  I teach my students to relax and just do the best they can, to draw on their memory of what's they've learned thus far in class, and it's not the end of the world if they don't get the scores they thought they should.

Many times, a test is a revelation to me as to whether my students have been grasping, absorbing, and understanding what's being taught, and if not, I need to go back to the drawing board and reteach it until they master it. 

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 1, 2010 at 6:44 PM (Answer #7)

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In my experience, students who fear tests frequently are those who are quite concientious and care a great deal about their grades. They often fear that they haven't covered all their bases and one weakness will do them in. Frequently this fear is groundless, a kind of free-floating anxiety. Also fearful are students who have had bad experiences in the past and relive them, like a flashback, every time a test paper is placed in front of them. Also feeding the fear of test taking is not understanding how to take a test; a good test taker employs many skills he or she is probably unaware of even using.

In terms of giving tests in class, I have used an approach for several years in teaching English and lit classes that works well. I give open-note tests and explain the procedure at the beginning of the year.

Students are encouraged to take notes in class and on their own. Any notes they have taken in their class notebook can be used while taking a test, but they cannot use handouts or material they have downloaded from the Internet. If they want to take notes over handouts and other resource material, they may, but all the notes in their notebooks must be in note form, material they have processed themselves, in their own handwriting.

The results have been pretty impressive. Knowing they can use their notes reduces test anxiety instantly. Their notebook becomes their safety net, but this is not the most important aspect of this approach. Learning goes up and discipline problems decrease dramatically in class because students focus and  listen. (Can't take notes without listening!) Many of them "beef up" their notes outside of class, which means they are learning that much more. Taking notes becomes important to them because there's a meaningful reward in it--the notes become a way for them to control to some extent success or failure on the test.

Before test day, I always remind them to review their notes and know where the information is in their notes so that they don't spend a lot of time leafing through their notebooks looking for it. Of course, when they do this, they are also reviewing the material itself.

I've made some interesting observations while giving these open-note tests. Early in the year, they use their notebooks a lot while testing, but as the year proceeds, they depend on them less and less. I'm sure this approach wouldn't work for every test in every class, but it has worked in my classes with great results, not just in higher test scores but in learning and understanding the material.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 1, 2010 at 6:47 PM (Answer #8)

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Being extremely well-prepared for any test--be it an exam in school or some sort of real-life test on the job--can alleviate much of the fear associated with exam-taking. I have taken many tests where I laughed at their simplicity, and on nearly every occasion it was because I knew the material backwards and forwards.

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epollock | Valedictorian

Posted February 1, 2010 at 8:23 PM (Answer #9)

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It is not possible to take the fear out of exams since grades are dependent on them. Unless of course, the teacher is able to give whatever grade the student earns. In some of my classes, I have to scale grades, and unfortunately students do not get the grades they earn all the time.

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coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted February 2, 2010 at 3:15 AM (Answer #10)

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Meditation and yoga can have beneficial effects for students who have a particularly acute issue with anxiety. This needs to be started well in advance of any exams or stress however, and preferably in partnership with 'talking therapy ' too. This is so that deep breathing and other stress-busting techniques can be learned and become a habit before the problem gets so serious it affects a student's performance.

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nusratfarah | Valedictorian

Posted February 2, 2010 at 3:33 AM (Answer #11)

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I think the greatest fear students have about exams is a fear of failure.  They think if they fail the tests, they will fail the course!  I teach my students to relax and just do the best they can, to draw on their memory of what's they've learned thus far in class, and it's not the end of the world if they don't get the scores they thought they should.

Many times, a test is a revelation to me as to whether my students have been grasping, absorbing, and understanding what's being taught, and if not, I need to go back to the drawing board and reteach it until they master it. 

I think what marbar57 has said is acceptable to many extents. But, what's very important to do is to make the students practice to develop their imagination & creativity. Students, in my opinion, should be taught to take help from the texts first, then from the websites. If a student thoroughly read the text, s/he can at least becomes able to answer an unseen question. For this reason, I think, students ought not to be dependent on their memorizing power. It would probably help to face any type of question in the exam hall & enjoy the task. It would also help the teacher to find out the real intelligent. In some countries, therefore, education system should be improved.

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versatilekamini | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted February 2, 2010 at 9:00 AM (Answer #12)

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The first step by which you can overcome exam fear is by being properly prepared for it. Plan your studies as planning helps in eliminating last minute panic. Ensure you revise before going for an exam so that you everything is fresh in your mind. Never indulge in last minute studying as that is bound to confuse you, leading to nothing but panic and uncalled for stress.

Confidence helps a great deal in overcoming exam fear and that comes only through proper preparation and self-belief. While there is no denying the fact that you need to be well prepared to gain confidence, there are few children who become over confident despite knowing nothing. This condition too is not healthy and thus what you need is confidence which stems from self-belief and proper preparation.

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giorgiana1976 | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted February 9, 2010 at 11:54 AM (Answer #13)

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Fear of examinations can be caused by the inability of students to master all aspects of complex subjects. This is due to a lack of understanding or failure to memorize vast topics. The effects are psychological stress, memory locks, panic attacks .

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 10, 2010 at 4:01 AM (Answer #14)

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I think for a lot of students it is the fear of failure rather than the exam itself which causes all the anxiety. Working yourself up with worry can only add to your stress and likely hood of not doing well on a exam. In order to avoid this I believe preparation is the key. If you have studied thoroughly then you should feel confident about taking it and doing well. I do believe that the setting and atmosphere of places where exams are taken add to the anxiety. In a exam room you cannot help but sense the stress in the air and the almost deathly quietness in the room. Perhaps finding some way to improve the test taking environment by finding different locations or surroundings would be beneficial to students.

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gmat1984 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 4, 2011 at 4:04 AM (Answer #15)

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Exam fear among students; causes & its impacts

Exam fear is a very common phenomenon among many a students, and it has a disastrous effect, no doubt. But, have the authorities ever tried to think about the causes of the fear, to remove the fear & make exam an enjoyable task rather than a scaring one, to focus upon the students in order to make them capable to overcome their fear especially on weak students to make them stronger?

What's your opinion?

Ya it's true.

I am agree with you...

If anyone is fearing from Exam.. it may be because he is not well prepared.

then just visit www.examfear.com

lots of study materials.. online test options and many more in a single site

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adithinv | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 7, 2013 at 8:36 AM (Answer #16)

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the authorities have made improvements in the education system over the past 50 years.... like in the U.S the multipal choise form of qustions are implimented where less or some times no writing is involved.... In India spacilly abbled students are allowed to carry notes or textbooks inside the examination hall. as a student my self i only fear from practical subjets like maths or accountency.... and now a days we are allowed to carry calculaters for working out the problems....

yes, more efforts must be put towards avoiding exam fear and i hav a strong hop that it will be possible..:)

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zumba96 | Student, Grade 11 | Valedictorian

Posted June 30, 2014 at 6:33 PM (Answer #17)

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Kids are always so stressed about high school and how it is and what they are going to do in life and how it will affect them. Someone can study a night long but completely forget everything in the exam because of stress and teachers view this as not studying when in fact they are simply stressed. 

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Wiggin42 | Student, Grade 11 | Valedictorian

Posted July 15, 2014 at 1:24 PM (Answer #18)

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Exam fear is stronger in high stakes test. For example, students fear the SAT more than they do Unit quizzes in school. One way to alleviate that fear is remove some of the high stakes from it. For example, the SAT allows retakes so no one is pressured to do well on the very first time they take the exam. Exam fear is linked to a stronger fear of failing which is hard to alleviate.

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