The Write Stuff for Test Anxiety: Fearful Students Score Better If They Jot Down Their Worries
Bower, Bruce, Science News
High school and college students can go from choking to smoking on big tests by writing about their exam fears beforehand, a new study suggests.
In what amounts to a Heimlich maneuver for choking under pressure, writing down test-related worries for 10 minutes before taking a major exam appears to dislodge those concerns and clear the way for higher achievement, say psychologists Gerardo Ramirez and Sian Beilock of the University of Chicago.
Writing about unspoken fears of failure and related anxieties lets students reevaluate such concerns and keeps worries at bay during a test, Ramirez and Beilock propose in the Jan. 14 Science.
"One bout of writing about test anxiety can substantially increase students' test scores and prevent the dreaded choke," Beilock says.
Ramirez and Beilock provide the first evidence of people reaping immediate benefits from expressive writing, remarks psychologist James Pennebaker of the University of Texas at Austin. His research has linked writing about personal conflicts and traumas over several days at the start of a college semester to improved physical health and final grades by semester's end. …