Eustress: When your test-taking stress is on your side!

Attitude is everything, right? But one of the first mistakes we make as test-takers is going into it with a crummy attitude. We get stressed, we get dejected, we get worried about how the next test might affect our whole life plan from now until our 40’s. But, there is hope yet for us!

A positive outlook on test-taking can make a tremendous difference not only in stress level, but in test performance.

Here’s a key fact: when it comes to taking tests, stress is actually a good thing! In limited quantities, that is. There’s point called Eustress, where you hit your peak performance: it’s about in the middle of your stress scale. When you have too little stress, you don’t have enough motivation to perform well; when you have too much, you get overwhelmed and can’t manage to perform well then either. The magic of the Eustress point is that you have enough stress to fuel and motivate to work and prepare and concentrate, but at a balanced level so that it’s manageable. 

Another useful trick is to make jokes for yourself as you study. Granted, this works better for some subject matter than others, but employing funny memory tactics can make the whole process significantly less terrible, and make you significantly less negative towards it!
For example, in learning spanish conjugations, I needed to remember that in the preterit tense, the verb saber changes its stem to supe (pronounced like soup-ay). To remember this, I think about how much I dislike soup, as if it had fangs like a sabre-toothed tiger. It’s a bad pun, but I was quick to remember that fact and was able to recall it easily when I needed to on my test. Puns and other humorous tactics for memorization can sometimes be more helpful than other mnemonics when your motivation is struggling.

Remember that, when balanced, your stress is actually on your side, and that studying can be fun(ish) when you have a good attitude!

Buena suerte!

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