Test Anxiety and Study Habits

Test Anxiety and Study Habits
The time leading up to your test can often be stressful and anxiety-inducing. Being in a high-pressured situation can actually deplete or take away from your working memory and reduce your academic performance.

We call this choking.

Choking is not exclusive to kids/students, but is also experienced by adults. This form of anxiety is seen everywhere and in everyday life, but let’s just focus on academia.
It is not unusual for students to feel anxious about school, sitting a test or even having to do a presentation. The issue now is what can we do to help reduce our academic anxiety? Here are my favourite tips for dealing with academic anxiety:

  • Practise positive study habits and stay organized
    • Make use of study tools.
    • No crash studying.
    • Review your material often.
    • Use a bullet journal or an agenda to help stay on course.
  • Practise self-care
    • Go for walks in your community with a friend, your parents or take the family dog for a walk.
    • Exercise.
    • Have a well-balance diet and get enough sleep.
  • Talk about your worries with someone
    • Talking about stressful situations can help put things into perspective and help to find solutions.
  • Write about it
    • Writing about your worries can help to reduce mental distress and improve your overall well-being.
    • Bonus: Writing about positive feelings, such as things in your life that you are grateful for or proud of, can also help to reduce anxiety and depression.

Test Anxiety and Study Habits
To decrease the stress and anxiety that we feel before upcoming tests, it helps to feel prepared and organized. As mentioned above, leaving studying to the last minute is not the best way to do this. There are some great ways that we can spend the semester/octomester preparing for upcoming tests, evaluations, and culminating projects. Here are a few great options to try:

  • Create an ideal study environment
    • This will look different for everyone based on their learning styles and strengths. Some will need a clear work surface with no distractions and a checklist, others may thrive with a laptop on the couch and music in the background. Know what works well for you, and create that environment when you need to study.
  • Maintain lists
    • It’s important to have a to-do list that you can see in order to prioritize your assignments, activities, and study time. It’s also satisfying to cross off the items on your list!
    • It can also be helpful to keep a separate list of things that occupy your mind while you are trying to study. These can be worries that pop up, or other things that you want or need to do. Keeping a blank piece of paper beside you (or a separate app/tab on the computer) allows you to notice these thoughts, track them, continue studying, and return to these thoughts later.
  • Review materials
    • Studying doesn’t just mean re-reading slideshows or re-writing notes. Teachers at the Academy preset their information in multiple ways to cater to all learning styles.
    • You can re-read or re-write if that works for you, but you can also review additional resources provided by your teachers, watch the lesson again if it was an online recorded lesson, answer bonus questions, or even create your own questions!
  • Focus on Main Ideas
    • If a word, topic, or subject is mentioned more than once, that implies importance! Pay attention to the themes that repeat and try to further your understanding in those areas.
  • Note-Taking
    • If you are taking notes in class or while watching a video, keep the notes brief. You want to be able to communicate your thoughts without missing more content.
    • Use short sentences and abbreviations rather than whole sentences.

Test Anxiety and Study Habits
There isn’t one method that will work well for everyone, and the methods that work for you may change as you get older. Try different techniques and see what works best for you. You can read some more Study Habits tips and tricks here. If you ever have questions about how to study, where to access more resources, or want to discuss your test anxiety, remember you can reach out to your teachers, support staff, and the guidance counsellor.

Written by:
Brydie Smith – Educational Assistant
Jamie Banton – Student Life Counsellor

The Art of Procrastination

 

As adults, we are all too aware of the struggles of procrastination. We are tempted by the pull of instant gratification, making it easier to choose the small, easy or fun task(s) first. It is much more satisfying to see the results of a quick tidy up rather than be content in knowing you have scrubbed every surface in a full spring-clean, especially when you would rather be BBQing, reading, or spending time with your loved ones. I sense some of our students are currently trying to manage similar struggles regarding their school work. In fact, one of our middle schoolers showed me this interesting TEDtalk that she stumbled upon, ironically while she was procrastinating. It is much easier for us to tell our children/students the importance of paying attention to school and staying current with their coursework, than it is for them to avoid the distractions of working from home.

With the YMCA Academy online classes taking place in the morning, students essentially have the whole afternoon to try to manage their time wisely for completing any additional or outstanding assignments. There is of course the 1pm-2pm help session available, and students can book time with staff to work 1:1 on assignments. Below, I have also compiled some tips that may help avoid distractions and procrastination for other parts of their day:

  • Turn off notifications on devices
    This may be a challenge for some students, but setting their devices to “Do Not Disturb”, Airplane Mode or turning off notifications can be a huge benefit to their attention span during class times/additional work sessions.
  • Leaving devices in another room
    Even with notifications turned off, it can be tempting to check for messages or scroll through social media sites. Leaving your cell phone or tablet, etc, in another room (or across the same room) can make it easier to ignore the urges to check a device.
  • Pomodoro Technique
    This is a technique that is designed to break large tasks down into smaller ones. It essentially requires 25 minutes of focused work, with a 5 minute break, repeated four times until you take an extended 20 minute break. This is a long time to expect most of our students to sit and focus, however this same concept can be used in smaller time frames.
  • Set a deadline/timeframe
    This transition into online learning has understandably been a challenge for many students. Setting a deadline or timeframe for school work each day can help students avoid feeling overwhelmed with course content.
  • Create a schedule
    Creating and using a schedule can be a great way for your child to learn how to manage and prioritize their time, a skill that will help them throughout their lives. We are happy to assist any student with making a schedule that suits their needs.

This is a generic list of tips and tools available, and may not be suited to each student. As always, we are happy to work with students who are struggling and have many supports in place to assist all of our students. If you have any concerns about your student, please feel free to contact us!

The Academy Show!

Again this year, the afternoon of the last day of classes in December features an exciting annual tradition: the Academy Show! Students were once again encouraged to pair up or collaborate in groups, and in total, twelve acts shared their passions and talents with the school community. From popular songs to dance performances to original spooky Christmas stories, and even a Shakespearan monologue, the performers’ courage and creativity was a delight to witness.

Our student MCs — Ali, Alex, and Dot — not only introduced the performers, but also kept us entertained with jokes and skits between acts. There was even a special performance by Brandon and Todd, who had been rehearsing their rendition of “I Do” from Bob’s Burgers, all week.

We hope that seeing their peers (and teachers) get up on the makeshift stage inspires even more students to sign up next year!

Check out more photos from this event on our Facebook page!

Academy partners with Digital Literacy + Coding pilot!

The YMCA Academy has always leveraged computer technology in the service of student learning. Laptop-based assistive technologies are at the heart of the supports we provide to a wide range of learning styles. Thus, when we had an opportunity to partner with the Brookfield Institute in their “Digital Literacy + Coding” pilot project“, we jumped at the chance.

The Academy has committed to running eight 12-week sessions to introduce youth in the GTA to the logic and practice of coding. We see this pilot as providing our students with additional expertise and knowledge that will be hugely important in the job markets they will face when they graduate. These sessions are free of charge, and laptops are provided.

By introducing Digital Literacy + Coding to a wide variety of youth, including youth who are underrepresented in this growing field, The Academy hopes to help shape the future.

The program will introduce youth to a variety of activities leading to a final project that each participant has chosen. They will be “remixing” websites, games, and other web-based applications to get a better understanding of how they work, and how elements of the code affect the final product.

The Digital Literacy + Coding pilot will focus on several languages, particularly HTML, CSS, and a brief introduction to JavaScript. These are the languages that are the backbone to complex and engaging web pages. This program is an excellent way to help youth begin the journey of sparking passion for STEM-related fields by learning the basics of the coding languages of the web.

 

2017 Graduation & End of Year Ceremony

Among the many amazing things about a YMCA Academy graduation, the one that stands out for me is the sense of shared celebration. We are members of a close and inclusive community of learners, who support one another socially and academically. Many of our students come to the school with little hope of success based on their experience within the education system; in their admissions interviews with me prior to enrolment, many of their parents and guardians express their sense of hopelessness for their children’s academic and life success.

So, the sense of celebration, of having achieved beyond their expectations, of heading off to new challenges well-equipped for success — this is what is behind the entirely positive vibe of the night! The fact that this was our largest graduating class to date only added to the energy of the evening.

Each member of The Academy is fully invested in the success of our students, and we all experience with them the sense of accomplishment and excitement for what comes next. That this is a shared experience is clear from every conversation I have that evening. It’s clear as well from what was shared on various social media.

Have a look here:

I am so proud of my youngest daughter Emma. In spite of all the challenges the world through at her, she persevered and…
Posted by Ben Mair on Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Such an amazing Graduation Evening last night. Many thanks to Don Adams, the teachers, and staff. YMCA Academy is a…
Posted by Jules Steele Clyde on Thursday, June 29, 2017

As we move into a new academic year, I keep the graduation in my mind as motivation. See you next year!

Check out more photos from this event on our Facebook page!