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Metacognition: The key to success?

Anxiety reduction tips and techniques

Assessing preferences

The research basis for the strategies, tips, and techniques presented

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Frequently asked questions (FAQs)



Frustration can occur when you have studied well, learned and practiced the new information, and were unable to show that you knew the information (whether on a test, class discussion, or a presentation). This section on performance will provide strategies which include test-taking, anxiety reduction, and other performance-based strategies.

Strategies (numbered, but not sequential): Try one or more and assess each one's effectiveness for you.

Before the test:

  1. If have information committed to memory that you are concerned about forgetting, practice doing a memory dump to prepare for your test.
  2. Sometime shortly before your test, review your vocabulary cards, study-reading questions, notes, and any other appropriate pieces of information.
  3. Anticipate and practice possible test questions.
  4. If anxiety is an issue, practice and get proficient at at least one anxiety reduction technique.

During the test:

  1. Do a memory dump first.
  2. If test-anxiety is an issue, use an anxiety reduction technique. The "Plug in the big toe" is a quick and easy technique to use as many times as needed during the test to produce a relaxation response.
  3. Survey the test for types of questions, number of questions, and time allotted. Quickly assess how to spend the time given. Allot a few minutes to review the whole test afterwards, before turning it in.
  4. Answer the easy questions first, skip difficult or unknown initially. Sometimes clues or connections to some questions may be incorporated into other questions.
  5. If you are guessing at an answer, go with your first guess (some people may make subconscious connections). If it is a guess, don't change your first choice unless you can state why it should be changed.
  6. Gauge your time. On most tests, it does not hurt you to guess at an answer.
  7. On multiple choice questions:
    • repeated parts in answers may give you some clues to the answer.
    • the longest and most detailed answer is frequently the best.
    • try to eliminate some obviously wrong answers (thus making a choice easier and a guess more likely to be right).
    • focus on the critical point of the question and don't be distracted by superfluous information.
  8. On true/false tests, you only need to find one false portion to make it false.
  9. On matching sections:
    • See if there is a one-to-one correspondence between word and phrase/definition.
    • Answer the ones you know, which eliminates some of the choices to make better guesses on the last few
    • Often clues for matching may be found in other types of questions, and vice versa
  10. Before turning the test in, take a few minutes to review the test, making sure all questions are answered. Don't make any changes unless you know why you are making a change.

Following the test/exam:

  1. After turning the test in, take a few minutes to write down areas you were unsure of that you want to check. If you can remember any questions you guessed on, you may want to jot them down.
  2. Assess how well you predicted the test questions. Where did most of the questions come from (lecture, text, assignments)?
  3. What worked well for you? What should you consider doing differently next time?
  4. Try to incorporate any identified changes into your new routine.

Performance is the opportunity for you to apply the new information you learned. You may be asked to repeat learned information, infer how to use it, or apply it in a new way. Performance is the most difficult because it builds on how effectively you were motivated to learn, how well you understood the new information, how much you practiced it, and finally, how well you have made it yours so that you can apply it in a new setting.

Being metacognitively aware of your needs at each step and consciously deciding how you can effectively learn the new information can greatly enhance your success in learning new information, retaining, and showing you have learned the new information. You now have some tools to use at your discretion. Good Luck!

NEXT-->Anxiety Reduction Strategies

Last update: July 15, 2007
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