Test Prep’s as much about calming anxiety as it’s about culling up facts to faceoff with memory. Are you aware that savvy test review can literally boost a brain to remember content, make connections and solve problems. The opposite is also true. Study under stress and you can wipe out a brain’s databanks much like tsunamis wipe out entire villages.
Here are four student-tested secrets to consider for higher grades and lower anxiety:
1. To do is to boost understanding. Since the brain shapes itself more by what we do than by what we memorize, have students act on a lesson fact. Actions teach. It could be as small as telling their family the most interesting or funny parts of a lesson or mimicking a character in literature or history. Or it could be teaching their pet five facts for an upcoming test. Students retain 90% more when they teach as they are learning, and pets love the attention!
2. Learning can be fun, so play your way into understanding. We call it funderstanding here at the brain center. It’s much like facts learned on a family holiday, or during a digital game. Skills stick when worry stops. Link facts to humorous settings, and you’ll remember more, for instance. Or draw sketches into margins of a text – to sketch them again as a memory-guide during a test.
3. Use facts you learn to fix something you do. Apply one fact from your text to improve your situation. Let’s say you learn about one scientist’s persistence. Jot down two ways he or she “hung in” or “created peace out of chaos” and the next time you face a difficult situation try one tactic that scientist used. Then expect to remember how it worked for the test.
4. Curiosity amps up capability. Ask a cool question about your facts, such as “What if …? Then look for interesting answers. Engage peers or parents with test topics that may interest them. Toss out the question, “Have you thought about…? Now you already lifted a mere fact up to the elevated capability that follows from curiosity.
My students love to display their journey from fear to freedom. They each contribute one strategy used to stay calm and enjoy test prep. We then display their suggestions as reminders. What would move your students from fear to freedom before their next quiz or standardized test?
Ellen Weber is a whole brain curriculum specialist at secondary and higher education. She works in secondary and college learning renewal where she has won awards internationally for her practical brain based Mita model to engage both sides of students’ brains.