What has your test prep experience got to do with your test performance? The key is, test prep is as much about you as about the content.
The reason for this is simple: stress affects performance.
This is well known in many fields, especially in sports.
Athletes need a certain amount of stress to charge them up so they can perform at their best. But if the stress crosses a certain line—either too much stress or too little—it starts hurting their ability to do well.
This concept is known as the “zone of optimal functioning.”
The amount of stress needed to produce optimal performance, the amount considered healthful, is different for each person.
Some people have to feel extremely worked up to jump-start themselves to perform well. Others will feel jangled and nervous with that much stress, and it will destroy their concentration.
For each person there is a zone of optimal functioning where the level of stress is just right. They are stimulated just enough to be creative and energized, to solve problems rationally, and to achieve a sense of self-satisfaction in their performance. Their adrenaline is not pumping too hard, nor are they lethargic, so they are able to progress at a good rate.
I have come to the conclusion that there is a path to how to find and stay in your zone of optimal functioning.
By practicing the exercises that are right for you, you will learn how to control stress rather than let it control you.
While it’s unrealistic to think you won’t have any stress when you’re taking a test, you need to know how to keep your stress at an optimal level so that it charges you up and keeps you at the top of your game rather than wears you out and runs you into the ground.
I want you to have the tools you need to perform at your best.
Let’s start with this exercise. It’s a guided imagery exercise, which means that after reading the directions, close your eyes and go through it. Guided imagery is the training tool of choice in sports psychology.
After you close your eyes, imagine yourself in front of a mirror. You look into the mirror and see what you are like when you are performing at your best. Notice three things: that your body is ready and relaxed, that your mind is positive, and that your spirit wants to achieve your goal. Make the conscious choice to follow that direction, Open your eyes. Get to work
You’ll be helped a lot by following the exercises in the book.
What is it like for you when you’re preparing for a test? Does the stress get so high you want to run away? How do you keep your stress at an optimal level? Where did you learn to do that?