Posted in Miscellany

*Cure For Exam Anxiety

If you’re anxious, it helps to think about something else. Right? Apparently not.

A new study found that writing for 10 minutes about how anxious you feel before an exam improves how well you do on the exam. The more anxious you are and the more negative statements you express, the greater the improvement.

Gerardo Ramirez and Sian Beilock tested students in the lab and in the classroom, comparing writing about their anxieties to writing about another topic and just sitting quietly. In all situations, the results confirmed that just writing for 10 minutes about their feelings helped tremendously.

This goes along with the study that found that writing about personal values closes the gender gap and the gap between black and white high school students. It amazes me how effective something so seemingly small and simple can be.

Just being true to oneself–whether that is in affirming one’s priorities or in expressing one’s feelings.

Full story here.



Lilian is the author of Web of Angels, a novel about a mom with DID (multiple personalities). She's also the author of the historical novels, The River Midnight and The Singing Fire, about secrets, friendship and motherhood in 19th century Poland and London.

12 thoughts on “*Cure For Exam Anxiety

  1. I am always, truly amazed and how powerful a little self-honesty openly expressed can be. It’s as if somehow, translating one’s inner acceptance of one’s vulnerabilities, of how things really are, into written word is an act of public avowal of self. It’s this, I think, that makes the difference in performance. “I am here”, the words say. “This is me in all my fears and anxieties, and I am still here.” Very powerful, to admit that.

  2. Dorothy, I wonder if any teachers will start to incorporate it into the exam period.

    Mary, that’s an interesting point. To fully acknowledge one’s presence is huge. A line from the bible that I like is when God calls “Moses! Moses!” he answers, “Here I am.” In Hebrew it’s just one word, “Hineni.”

  3. Yes, that line is interesting, because of course God, being omniscient must have known where Moses stood. What this means is that the call back “Hineni” was the point, not the knowledge of where Moses was, but the rather, the point was the requirement that Moses affirm out loud his presence. It’s this that confirms his relationship with God. It fits very well the findings you’ve brought to our attention.

  4. Di, yes, and I find that this is also true with fiction. It does something to me, a good thing, when I get past the frustration and anxiety.

    Mary, yes! And that is so often misunderstood. A spiritual relationship can’t be forced.

    Emily, I always got my anxiety after exams, which was convenient, though the downside was that it could last a very long time because there wasn’t any distinct end to it.

  5. Absolutely, anxiety comes direct from the lizard brain, which is designed to scream louder and louder and louder at you until you do what it wants. To address anxiety and accept it is far more effective than trying to block it out.

    I do tell my students this, but they don’t always believe me… I’ll quote the study now!

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