Today’s question is: How do I get rid of my anxiety before an exam?
Answer: You don’t get “rid” of anxiety. A little bit of anxiety has been shown (in over a hundred years of research) to be a good thing. Remember the “Yerkes-Dodson curve” (see illustration). Yerkes and Dodson were two psychologists who showed, at the beginning of the 20th century, that there’s a direct relationship between stress and performance. Too much or too little stress and performance suffers. You need just the right amount of stress to perform well. The trouble is students think that their “anxiety” before an exam is a bad thing. Yes, it is, when it incapacitates you. In other words, when it’s too high.But if you think about it as “energy” you need some to give you the boost to get you launched. Think about those big spacecraft — the rockets are fired and the energy propels the rocket into space. The big hulking parts of the spacecraft fall away eventually and the small capsule does its thing once it is out of the earth’s gravitational pull. You are just like that before an exam. Your jets are fired, you are ready to launch. Don’t confuse anxiety with energy. If you are truly anxious and you are not remembering things, you are doubting yourself, you are distracted and you are physically tense, then you’re going to slide quickly to the right side of the graph. You are unable to perform the way you ought to be. Too much stress = poor performance. Use the tools in the book. Get yourself back on track. Learn to become calm, confident and focused.
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