As the long awaited exam week approaches, the stress and confusion around how to prepare for these tests strengthens. Fortunately, Pace provides its students with more than enough resources and tips to diminish these worries and concerns. “Do not wait until the last minute. Studies have shown that we are more likely to remember what we are learning when we spread the learning out over a period of time instead of trying to cram.” says Upper School Counselor and AP Psychology Teacher Ms. Amelia Harmon. Ms. Harmon also emphasizes that sleeping, eating well and taking breaks is a priority, as these directly impact one’s ability to handle stress.
“Remember that your teachers want you to succeed. Keeping in mind that if you don’t do as well on your exam as you would like, there are still ways you can bring your grade up. Have a good relationship with your teacher and communicate with them,” says Ms. Harmon.
Much of the unnecessary stress can stem from test taking anxiety. According to Nathaniel von der Embse, an assistant professor of school psychology at the University of South Florida, test anxiety is a “ … cognitive emotional and physical reaction to evaluation and the consequences of evaluation.” It is suggested that students rehearse how they want to go through the exam, recalling the information accurately and quickly.
The stress around exams can also be calmed through effective studying techniques. According to the University of San Diego department of psychology, the top two most effective learning techniques are spaced/distributive practice and retrieval practice. Spaced practice regards studying that occurs over multiple sessions within a couple of weeks, consistently reinforcing the information learned every couple of days.
Retrieval practice advises that instead of simply restudying information, attempting to recall the information from memory is far more challenging and effective. This can be implemented through taking or making practice tests and flashcards. Spaced practice describes when one should study, while retrieval practice entails how one should study. When combined, these two study techniques allow information to stick in the brain for a longer period of time compared to when one simply rereads over their notes.
The Student Advisory Board (SAB) at Pace also plans to host events leading up to and during exam week in order to relieve stress. “In December, we plan to have Happy Tails join the Pace campus to bring some positive energy during such a stressful time. Happy Tails is a program where adorable dogs visit with people to relieve stress and promote positivity,” says senior and SAB leader Allie Campbell. The SAB also plans on having “donut stress day,” in which doughnuts will be handed out at break along with playing holiday music over the loudspeakers.