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Faculty, students face exam stress

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - "Final exams are an electrifying time of year," said Patrick Burkhart, Slippery Rock University professor of geography, geology and the environment. They are also seen and remembered by many as a time of great anxiety and stress.

While students may see one form of anxiety as they prepare for finals, faculty too face stress as they prepare final exams and face the end of the semester. "They typically are very busy with grading, so we burn the midnight oil to prepare for the surge. In some classes, such as my courses in water science, I reuse extensive material from year to year. Such a plan requires that the course is delivered consistently, exam questions are reviewed for relevance and previous exams are sequestered to prohibit their circulation," Burkhart said.

"In other courses, such as many large enrollment liberal studies classes, new exams may be written every term. Everyone is encouraged to confirm the time and day of all exams, so that no surprises arise. Then, schedules must be planned to ensure adequate preparation and timely processing of class grades can be completed. One exciting aspect of higher education is that no matter whether a term unfolds well, or gets bogged down in the quagmire, they always end with a break," he said.

Carol Holland, director of the SRU Student Counseling Center, says among the top five things to do to avoid exam stress are:

"Use encouraging self-talk and have a positive attitude toward the test. Reward yourself after the test for completing it and don't dwell on potential mistakes," Holland said.

The counseling center will sponsor a "Stress Less" event from 4-6 p.m., Dec. 12, in Watson Hall's Great Room. The event will offer such stress relieving tasks as making stress balls, crafts, coloring, games and cards. A number of pets will be on hand that students can play with to reduce stress levels.

Further ideas and helpful hits for dealing with test-taking stress may be found at any of the following online sites:

About Test Anxiety

Analyzing T & F Questions

Answering Essay Questions

Answering Multiple Choice Questions

Big Test Tomorrow

Common Words Used in Essay Questions

Conquering Finals

Cracking the Code for Essay Exams

Decide What You Need to Do to Prepare

Definition of Terms Used in Essay Exams

Don't Change the Answer

Easy Steps to Writing the Essay Exam

Essay Exam Strategies

Exam Anxiety 101

Exam Planner

General Strategies for Taking Essay Tests

Getting Ready for Finals

How To Be Test Wise