Monday, November 26, 2012

Trick to reduce test anxiety

We all get it.  That nervous—sometimes paralyzing—anxiety just before a big exam.  Or worse—we panic and forget even the simplest things during a big test.

Test anxiety.  It’s not just annoying, it can affect your performance.  And your grades!

And final exams are almost upon us.

Recent research has revealed an easy and effective trick for reducing test anxiety during your next big test.  You do this trick just before the test.  I mean in the few minutes you have just before the text begins.  You know, that time you are sitting in the hallway nervously awaiting for the doors to open and the test to begin. Listening to your classmates talk about all that stuff you’re not sure you know well enough.  Frantically going over your notes one last time.  Making yourself a nervous wreck.

OK, so what is this nifty trick?

Journal your anxiety.

What?!  Write out my feelings like in a middle-school diary?

Well, yes—sort of.  Research shows that if you take about ten minutes to write out (not just think about) your feelings at the moment, you’ll feel less anxious during your exam.  And because of that (the research shows) you will do better on the exam! 

On average, students that use this technique raise their grade and average of one whole letter grade.  So even if you think it’s silly, isn’t it worth trying?

Students in a research study reported that by writing out their feelings, they quickly got to a point of calm and confidence.  The writing somehow took the energy out of the anxiety and replaced nervousness with readiness. 

So on exam day.  Get there ten minutes early.  Ignore the raving of your frantic pals.  And just write what’s going through your head.  When the exam starts, you’ll be ready for it.

Want to know more?

Read the story behind this trick:

Testing Anxiety: Researchers Find Solution To Help Students Cope

Check out my advice on breathing to reduce test anxiety:

Don’t forget to breathe!

Need some advice on preparing well for exams?

Previous articles on exam strategies

Brief video on preparing for exams

Another strategy with proven results: 

Tame Test Anxiety: Solid Anxiety Reduction Training



Photo by Josh Davis under CC license

Monday, November 19, 2012

Edraw Mindmap

Making concept maps or "mind maps" is a great way to learn A&P.  It's also a great way to study for your midterm or final exam!

As I've stated frequently in previous posts, a concept map is simply a drawing of a concept.  The simpler the better, so there's no need for artistic skills.

One of my students recently make me aware of another FREE tool you can use to make your own concept maps quickly and easily.  It's called Edraw Mindmap.

If you want to see how it works, check out the Edraw video Make an Effective Mind Map.  This video has a funky robotic narration, but it gives you a quick rundown on how easy the software is to use.  Maybe you should turn off the sound and play your favorite music (the narration simply speaks tips that clearly printed in the video).

Want to know more?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)

Having trouble visualizing the ventricles and canals that contain CSF (cerebrospinal fluid)?   Or the pathway of circulation of the CSF?

Here's a brief animated video that walks you through it all in a simple, straightforward way.

The video uses eponyms and other terminology you may not be using in your course, so here are some translations:
  • ependymal cavity = ventricle
  • foramina of Munro = interventricular foramina
  • aqueduct of Sylvius = cerebral aqueduct (aqueduct of midbrain)
  • foramen of Magendie = median foramen or median aperture (of fourth ventricle)
  • granulations of Pacchioni = arachnoid villi or arachnoid granulations

Click on the image above for a freaky animated MRI (magnetic resonance image) showing the pulsing of the CSF with the hearbeat in aa person with normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH). Image (c) Nevit Dilmen.

For more on differences in terminology, check out my video: