Complete Test Preparation Inc. partners with Eco Libris to balance titles

ecosticker_forprint_100 treesComplete Test Preparation Inc. is pleased to announce our partnership with Eco-Libris to plant 400 trees have been planted using the highest ecological and sustainable standards in Latin America (Nicaragua, Guatemala, Panama, Belize, Honduras) and Africa (Malawi), where deforestation is a crucial problem. Eco-Libris administers the project by working with partners in developing countries who make sure that the trees are planted where they provide significant value for both the environment and the local communities. 

The program is now being rolled out to new titles every month. as a way to showcase their commitment to environmental sustainability.

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How to Cram – or, How to Ace the Exam That’s Just Around the Corner

CramSheila has an exam coming up in Advanced Biology.  It had been announced weeks ago, but she has a full course load.  She studies every night for several hours, and sometimes she gets overwhelmed with all she has to do.  And that’s the problem:  She is so overwhelmed that she completely forgot about the Advanced Bio exam until today. Now it’s tomorrow and she has to study–FAST. Continue reading “How to Cram – or, How to Ace the Exam That’s Just Around the Corner” »

Pros and Cons of Studying with a Computer

The question of whether a computer can help students in high school or college was settled long ago. It’s nearly impossible to find a student who doesn’t use a PC to help him type papers or look up things in encyclopedias. But what about major study sessions? The traditional form of studying has consisted mostly of pulling out your textbook and class notes and sitting at your desk or on your bed and trying to memorize as much as possible.
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Test Anxiety Secrets!

anxietyThe Complete Guide to Overcoming Test Anxiety

Put down your class notes and textbook for just five minutes and take this short quiz. It might help with the rest of your study time.

1) Do you have a difficult time motivating yourself to start studying for a big test? ______

2) Do you expect that, no matter how hard you study, that you will do poorly on the test? ______

3) Do you find yourself easily distracted during your study time? _____

4) When you take a test, do you have difficulty understanding directions and the questions? _____

5) Do you feel physical discomfort such as upset stomach, a headache, breathing difficulties or tension as you take a test? _______

6) During the test, do you frequently space out and draw a blank? _______

7) Do you find it hard to organize your thoughts during the test? _______

8) Does your mind wander to other things as you’re testing?

9) Immediately after you finish a test, do you remember an answer that you couldn’t recall during the test? _______

10) Do you find that your test scores are usually lower than those on papers and other assignments? ______

Each of the above questions is a common symptom of test anxiety; if you replied yes to four or more, then anxiety is probably an issue with you and might be causing you real problems.

What is Test Anxiety

Test anxiety is not something dreamed up by students to explain why they do so poorly in their classes. It’s a recognized psychological phenomenon. Specifically, it’s a form of the psychological condition known as ‘performance anxiety.’ It’s described as a flight or fight reaction to people as they perform either in public or for others to evaluate.

Don’t worry though. Just because you experience test anxiety doesn’t mean you’re psychologically imbalanced. In fact, performance anxiety is experienced by most people at some time in their lives.

As with other forms of performance anxiety, test anxiety is your body’s reaction to a stressful situation. Any time you’re under stress, the body releases adrenaline. Adrenaline is a hormone that prepares your body for danger. Adrenaline causes symptoms such as pounding heart, sweating, rapid breathing and sweaty palms.

These symptoms interfere with basic thinking processes, such as remembering, problem solving and analyzing. In other words, test anxiety is often a self-fulfilling prophecy. You worry that you won’t do well on the test, and this triggers adrenaline. The adrenaline causes the symptoms such as the rapid breathing and fast heartbeat, which in turn interfere with clear thinking.

When these symptoms are present, basic thinking processes like remembering, analyzing, and problem solving are affected. That is the reason that students who experience test anxiety feel that their brain is not working right.

The biological state of anxiety evolved for good reason. Its purpose is to keep your body vigilant and ready to fight or run if you must. However, our biological evolution has not kept up with rapid changes in society. The adrenaline rush was meant give extra energy when your life is in danger, not put you on high alert before your college exam.

Another important cause of test anxiety is the worry about how others will perceive you if you do poorly on the exam. A student who regularly experiences test anxiety tends to be the one who puts a lot of pressure on him or herself to perform well. They feel they must do well to make parents happy or to maintain their status as the smart one in the class. One less-than-perfect grade is a blow to their self-confidence, which causes more test anxiety.

The Procrastination Connection

Most students who have a problem with test anxiety also have problems with procrastinating. This is not a coincidence. Our natural reaction when danger is perceived is to avoid the situation. So even though it’s not logical, when the deep-seated emotions sense that the upcoming test presents danger, the mind’s response is to avoid the issue altogether. Studying for the test is the logical thing to do, since this is what will help the student do well on the test; but on an instinctual level, the person wants to run away from anything pertaining to the test.

This just adds to the self-fulfilling prophecy we talked about earlier. The student does not want to study for a test that he or she thinks is going to be difficult. So, when he finally gets around to studying for it, adrenaline is released, and this interferes with studying and with taking the test. The procrastinator inevitably waits until the last possible minute to study, and this makes the test anxiety at exam time even worse.
This means, of course, that a perfectionist is more likely to have problems with test anxiety than the non-perfectionist. The perfectionist finds it hard to accept mistakes he or she might make, which releases the adrenaline that interferes with his or her performance during the test. More on Procrastination.

How to Handle Test Anxiety

Lets look at some specific strategies for handling test anxiety that you can use right now.

The Most important tip – Take care of yourself.

Studying and taking tests uses serious brain power so you want your mind operating at its sharpest. This means looking after yourself physically, mentally and emotionally.

Physical Preparation

Staying healthy can help you stay focused on the course material. Cramming and caffeine are OK if that is the only option, but it is not the easier or recommended option. Eat healthy and eat foods that keep your blood-sugar level stable: fruit, vegetable, grain and protein.

Stay hydrated. Drink lots of water. This sustain energy and focus. Remember cola, alcohol and caffeine dehydrate. Drinking straight water is best.

Reduce alcohol and caffeine. Caffeine actually makes you jittery, which is not conducive for concentrating. More on Caffeine. More on Alcohol and studying.

Keep your body moving. Hours of studying take a toll on the body. Exercise improves your mood, energy level and concentration. Exercise during your normal workout time is great but that is not enough. After you’ve been studying for a while, stop for a few minutes of exercise. A five-minute walk after you’ve been studying for a while is rejuvenating.

Get enough sleep. It’s easier for you to retain information if you keep a regular, healthy sleep schedule. College and University can be crazy and it isn’t always possible to get a full eight hours – do the best you can!
Take breaks. Reward yourself by doing something special for yourself. You might check your Facebook account or eat a bowl of ice cream.

Mental Preparation

Visualize yourself doing well. This means that you need to make yourself believe that you will do well and pass the test. If you spend your energy thinking about yourself failing, you create more anxiety. More anxiety makes it less likely that you’ll do well on the exam. So, you create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Staying positive and thinking about how great you’re going to do, will reduce anxiety.

Being positive and boosting your confidence is one thing – but don’t become over confident. A little anxiety is good and over confidences can cause you to become careless.

Watch Self Talk. Pay attention to what you’re thinking, both as you’re studying and as you’re taking the exam. Learn to immediately recognize any negative thoughts (I’ll probably bomb the multiple-choice section) and force yourself to stop the thought in mid-stream. Replace these negative thoughts with positive ones: I know this material, so the multiple-choice portion will be a breeze.

Keep your mistakes in perspective. This is both important yet difficult, especially for the perfectionist. However, you must remind yourself regularly that everybody makes mistakes and nobody is great at everything. Learn to think of mistakes as learning opportunities. One boy, for instance, was in a third-grade spelling bee and was eliminated for spelling the word business wrong. Forty years later, he says he has never spelled business as business ever again, all because he learned from a mistake.

Ask for help. Be willing to ask for help. While a little anxiety can serve as a positive signal to act, too much of it will cause you to perform poorly on the test. It’s better, instead, to get some help. Seek out a tutor or, if your professor is open to this kind of thing, speak directly to him about the issue. If you are taking a College exam or High School tests, go to the Counseling center. If nothing else, make plans well in advance to study with a group of friends; this goes a long way toward alleviating the stress that accompanies test anxiety.

Emotional Preparation

Get Happy! Or at least not sad! For many students, college life is a roller coaster of depressed emotions, so, getting yourself happy the week of the test is a great strategy to help you do well on the test. So, indulge in something the week of the test and avoid depressing situations, this way you will be in the right mind set for the test.
Deal with Anger before the test. It does not matter if you are angry with your roommate or test instructor; tell your self that it is not worth losing good marks on your test.

Don’t Fight Reality. Yes, standardized tests favor certain types of students and yes, they may not be the best measure of your knowledge and ability. None of that matters right now because you must take the test and it will count toward your final grade. Deal with it!

Breathing Exercises to Relieve Test Anxiety

Breathing exercises are one of the best ways to relive stress. You can do them sitting down and they will relax you quickly before you start your exam.
I AM exercise. Inhale slowly, and as you do so, say to yourself, “I AM. . .” Now exhale slowly, and complete the sentence, “. . .relaxed.” Do this several times until you feel the anxiety leaving you. Here are some breathing exercises from Dr. Andrew Weil.

Stimulating breath. This exercise is especially good before a test, because it relaxes, raises your vital energy level and increases your alertness. Sit upright and close your mouth (but keeping it relaxed). Now inhale and exhale in short, quick bursts, through your nose. Each inhale and exhale should last only about a half second. Keep them spaced evenly. This produces a rapid movement of your diaphragm. Suggestion: Do this in the back of the class, when not many people are around, or they’re likely to think something’s wrong with you. Do this exercise only for about 20 or 30 seconds. If you do it right, you should feel invigorated and free of stress.

Relaxing breath. This one is super-simple to do while sitting in a classroom chair. Sitting straight up, place the tip of the tongue to it touches the ridge of tissue behind the top front teeth. Keep it there during the entire exercise. Purse your lips slightly. Now exhale completely through the mouth; you should feel a “whoosh” go out of your mouth. Now close your mouth and breath in quietly through the nose, counting to four in your head. Now hold until you count to seven. Return your mouth to a slight pursing of the lips and exhale through the mouth, again generating the “whoosh,” to a mental count of eight. This entire motion counts as one repetition. Do it again three more times. Remember: quiet breaths in through the nose and “whooshing” breaths out through your mouth, with the tip of your tongue remaining in the same position. This exercise acts as a natural tranquilizer. If you feel a bit lightheaded as you do the exercise, don’t worry; it’ll pass.

Breath counting. Sit in your chair, with your spine straight and with your head slightly inclined forward. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Let the breaths be exhaled without attempting to influence it. The exhale should be slow and quiet. Now start the exercise by counting to “one” while exhaling. The next exhale is “two,” the next one, “three,” the next one “four,” and then “five.” After you reach five, start a new cycle, beginning at “one” again. Remember to count only when exhaling. Try to do this for about 8 or 10 minutes before the start of the test, and you should be fully relaxed and yet alert.

Okay, break time is over. Pull out the text and your class notes and let’s ace a test!

Online Relaxation Exercises and Resources


Several relaxation exercises with detailed description and instructions Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Detailed description of different types of anxiety – plus muscle relaxation exercises, breathing exercises, meditations and books. Videos and downloads – see Other Resources – Marquette University

Progressive muscle relaxation video  U. of Texas


Free guided meditations in English and Spanish – UCLA

The Meditation Podcast

Guided Medications and other resources – Health Journeys: Resources for Mind, Body, & Spirit


Yoga video 


Written by:
Modified: August 30th, 2018 August 30th, 2018
Published: August 17th, 2010

How to Prepare for a Test – The Ultimate Guide

ExamWhen faced with an exam most students hide their heads and procrastinate hoping that somehow they will be spared the agony of taking a test – particularly a big one that their future relies on. Avoiding the all important test is what many students do best and unfortunately they suffer the consequences because of lack of preparation. Continue reading “How to Prepare for a Test – The Ultimate Guide” »

Growth Jobs in the NEW Economy

Growth Careers and the New Economy

So much has changed in so little time regarding America’s growth careers.  Not so long ago, newspaper reporters, online retailers, auto workers, and retail managers were all hot prospects.  That was before last September.  When the economy crashed, it completely rewrote the book on where the career possibilities are.  As newspapers went out of business, as banks folded, as auto makers teetered on the brink of bankruptcy, more and more young people wondered:  Can I still find a worthwhile job in this economy, and make decent money? Continue reading “Growth Jobs in the NEW Economy” »

Common Mistakes Made on a Test


We all know that tests are not much fun and when we take a test and make a stupid mistake we can be really upset – especially when it is something that could have been easily avoided. So what are some of the common mistakes that are made on tests that we should try to avoid whenever possible? Continue reading “Common Mistakes Made on a Test” »

Taking Notes: Split-Page Method

While thorough notes are a vital part of making good grades, many students do not know how to take notes. Note taking is not a skill you are born with, but one that you learn. Unfortunately, most instructors assume that previous instructors have taught students study skills and how to take good notes. There are many ways to organize your notes, and the split-page method is one of the most popular.  For more information about learning effective study skills, try our post on how to study. Continue reading “Taking Notes: Split-Page Method” »

Taking Notes: Outline Method

Taking notes is not a skill that comes naturally to many students, but it is also not a skill that is taught in many classrooms. Note Taking is one of the most important study skills for High School Students and College Students. Because note taking is so important to educational success, it is important that students learn proper methods for taking thorough notes. The outline method of note taking is one that will look familiar to many students.
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Classroom Activities for Teaching Study Skills

As a teacher, your teaching strategy should always be creative to ensure that your students find learning in school an exciting activity. You can add or incorporate a study skill activity  in every class session. For variety, you can include a unique classroom activity in every class period to motivate and improve your studentslearning capabilities.  This can include a study skills lesson plan and a taking notes lesson plan.

Preparing for various study skills activities

can be very challenging as you need to work out imaginative ways to ensure that your students learn from the activity. Each of your class periods should integrate a study skill activity to enable your students to develop their own good study habits. A classroom activity should consider the three factors detailed below. Continue reading “Classroom Activities for Teaching Study Skills” »