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Testing, Testing, 1-2-3

Test-Taking Tips for the Nervous Examinee

October 21, 2013
This week, my 7-year-old is taking the MEAP (Michigan Educational Assessment Program) exam at his elementary school. The test is administered each October to all third- through ninth-grade students in Michigan, and it’s used to assess students, evaluate teachers, and rank schools based on student proficiency.

Similarly, in the HVAC industry, organizations like North American Technician Excellence (NATE), the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES), and HVAC Excellence all offer a wide variety of training and testing to evaluate and certify HVAC professionals. These tests help ensure the person is qualified to do the work they are doing.

Since the MEAP is so important to my son’s school and the district, he and his classmates have been preparing for it since the first day of school. Now, I’m not worried that my son doesn’t know the material — he’s an incredibly bright little boy (he’s almost done reading the entire Harry Potter series, for goodness’ sake). But, unfortunately for him, he inherited my test anxiety.

I get nervous, I overthink things, I freak out a little, and I start doubting myself, even if I know the information backward and forward. Mini Me is exactly the same way, but luckily, there are resources available for him and others, including HVAC professionals, who get nervous before an exam.

Test Anxiety Help

Test anxiety is so common that many colleges and universities offer help, often through the school’s counseling center. There are also numerous resources available online from entities like the Mayo Clinic and the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA).

For those in the HVAC industry who struggle with test anxiety, it can be especially detrimental, since ongoing testing and accreditation are a very integral part of the industry. If you’re a nervous test-taker, or know somebody who is, here are a few helpful tips from the ADAA:

Be prepared. Develop good study habits and study at least a week or two before the exam, in smaller increments of time and over a few days (instead of pulling an “all-nighter”). Try to simulate exam conditions by working through a practice test, following the same time constraints.

Develop good test-taking skills. Read the directions carefully, answer questions you know first, and then return to the more difficult ones. Outline essays before you begin to write.

Maintain a positive attitude. Your self-worth should not be dependent on or defined by a test. Creating a system of rewards and reasonable expectations for studying can help to produce effective studying habits. There is no benefit to negative thinking.

Stay focused. Concentrate on the test, not other examinees, and try not to talk to other examinees about the subject material before taking an exam.

Practice relaxation techniques. If you feel stressed during the exam, take deep, slow breaths, and consciously relax your muscles, one at a time. This can invigorate your body and will allow you to better focus on the exam.

Stay healthy. Get enough sleep, eat healthy foods, exercise, and allow for personal time. If you are exhausted, physically and/or emotionally, it will be more difficult for you to handle stress and anxiety.

Visit a counseling center. For HVAC students, schools are often aware of the toll exams can take. They may have offices or programs specifically dedicated to helping you and providing additional educational support.

Test anxiety can affect anyone of any age. For more information on test anxiety and how to overcome it, visit http://bit.ly/1acSLXv.

Publication date: 10/21/2013

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