Monthly Archives: December 2009

First Ladies and performance anxiety

3LeggedStoolBookThis is the third in a series of posts sparked by an article on Michelle Obama, written by Lynn Sweet,  about a talk Mrs. Obama had with high school students, telling them about her struggles with test anxiety.

In the article, Ms. Sweet also referenced two other First Ladies and their performance anxiety. For Laura Bush it was about public speaking. Hillary Clinton recalled that at age 4 she came home crying to her mother because a girl was pushing her around. Her mother taught her to stand up for herself: “My mother was afraid that if I gave in to my fears, it would set a pattern for the rest of my life.”

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A new angle on test-prep: use it to empower yourself

dealing_with_every_testThis is the second in a series of posts about an article by Lynn Sweet in Politics Daily on Michelle Obama, her own struggles with test anxiety.

While the First Lady spoke to a group of high school girls in Denver, as part of a new mentoring program she is kicking off, Mrs. Obama gave her listeners a bit of practical advice on test preparation: “You’ve got to prepare for the tests, take them seriously because they are part of the measures, they’re part of the system. But don’t let these tests defeat you. Don’t let them define you.”

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The First Lady's test anxiety and how she is helping countless students

A welcome mentor for students

Michelle Obama had test anxiety.

In a talk she gave to high school students,  First Lady Michelle Obama spoke about her own struggles with test anxiety.  “I was never a great standardized test taker,” she said. “So from a personal level, I would always get nervous and feel a great deal of anxiety over test-taking. So it was always a point of frustration for me personally.”

In talking about herself she is helping countless students across the country and around the world. Test anxiety is a very common problem and one that disempowers many students at all ages. For one of the most significant public figures in the world to be open about her own struggles with testing, and to have accomplished all that she has, shines a light into a subject that many students find hard to discuss and for which they receive little help.

In the next few posts I’d like to reflect on Mrs. Obama’s willingness to discuss her experience and how it actually can help many many others.  Thank you First Lady, for being so human!

And thank you, Lynn Sweet, in Politics Daily, for covering the story. This kind of sensitive, humane reporting is helpful to countless students, parents and teachers. To read Lynn Sweet’s article, go to   http://www.politicsdaily.com/2009/11/18/what-made-michelle-obama-anxious-and-nervous/

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PTO: a test prep book for all ages

Emeryville, East Bay, CA

PTO Emery is a bright light in East Bay

On Monday night I had the honor of being the featured speaker at the Emeryville Unified School district’s parent teacher’s association meeting. After a delicious holiday dinner we all moved into the library of Emery Secondary School and PTO President Brynnda Collins introduced me. The school district generously provided each parent at the meeting with a copy of my book. I gave a talk on the book and particularly chapter 5, “How to Calm Down.”  I think the material in this chapter is particularly helpful for parents when their kids are stressed out about tests.

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Effective skills help with LSAT test-taking anxiety

Recently, I met a student who was anxious about taking the LSAT.  She came to my book launch, brought by her sister, to get help for her test taking anxiety. The student was skeptical, but her sister bought her a copy of the book anyway.

A month later I received the following email from the student:

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Test taking anxiety? Learn to be your own coach.

Is there a pill for test stress? No.  Do I have a bag of magic tricks? No.

There’s no kit with a top hat and a wand that you wave over your head and then
Presto! You can now sail through tests without studying and without concentrating.

I can show you what to do. You have to finish the job.

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Book reading, interesting questions, and a tip for effective study skills

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Students and parents make a great audience

We had a book reading and signing at Clayton Books in Clayton CA last night.  I greatly enjoy the interaction with students and parents.

The lively discussion produced some interesting questions. One, from a parent, was: “What if my child has trouble focusing while studying, but not during a test?”

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