TRAINING is more than information!
Good advice is not always enough. Good advice on its own is found to produce only a small fraction of the benefits usually obtained from the better anxiety reduction treatments. Anxiety impairs memory, and much of the good advice gets lost amid the high stress of taking an exam.
Most students need a training experience, which guides you step by step as you practice more positive thought patterns and more adaptive responses.
Recorded CDs and DVDs can train you as a professionally administered protocol would, and can produce similar strong benefits. The recorded protocols structure the learning experience for you, and condition and imprint and embed new associations, so that you respond automatically and do not have to constantly remind yourself during your exams.
The following treatment programs are recommended by the American Test Anxieties Association.
Recorded training program provides substantial benefits in just two 30 minute sessions. Supporting research is extremely strong. The confidence training has produced substantial anxiety reduction and an average half letter test gains in four consecutive studies involving 50+ anxous college students. The test gains are especially strong for high school and college students, and more modest test gains have been found for younger students (see research).
The training is brief. The CD training takes 31 minutes, and we recommend you listen to it twice and then occasionally as needed. Benefits tend to last over several years. Schools can easily administer the CD to groups of anxious students, thereby conserving staff time.
The combination of substantial anxiety reduction and robust test gains qualify the training as one of the most promising one to two hour anxiety-reduction programs available anywhere.
Systematic Desensitization is typically facilitated by a professional either in person or with guided audio. It involves graduated exposure to an anxiety-provoking situation. This can ultimately reduce the fear response that is produced by the situation. This method typically involves learning relaxation techniques, creating an anxiety-based hierarchy, and gradually moving up the hierarchy as each step becomes more comfortable. When using systematic desensitization with guidance, a person can work towards intentionally imagining each scenario on the hierarchy. As a person gradually becomes more comfortable with a step on the hierarchy, it can serve to reduce to fear response . When an imaginal scene evokes only a small degree of anxiety, the next step on the hierarchy can be introduced. By learning to use relaxation techniques with systematic desensitization, a person can return to a relaxed state when it is needed during the process.
Quick Summary of Methods
The good news is that many of the test anxiety protocols can be administered to groups of students, making the cost per student considerably more manageable.
Strong benefits are most often obtained with:
Systematic Desensitization, which is the most commonly used method
Protocols combining several therapeutic components
Hypnosis combined with practice
Modest benefits should be expected from:
Hypnosis without practice images
Weaker outcomes can attained from:
With no interventions, students show only minimal improvement on their own.
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