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Lessening the Anxiety and Negativity toward Taking Tests

Idealistically, we probably could measure learning adequately without the trauma of test taking. Practically, it may be impossible because of the expectations of the overall system -- the parents, high school administrators, colleges and employers.

Certainly, tests could be administered, especially in the early elementary grades, without the stigma of the letter grade. Administer a particular test, indicate where mistakes were made, but don't place a grade on the test. If the teacher needs a grade, place it in the student record or class book. The test then becomes a measurement and an evaluation for the student, whereby he or she knows where mistakes were made and which areas need improvement. In other words, the test becomes a guide for the continued progress of the student.

Thus, the potential trauma created by tests and grades can be lessened by how and when an individual is introduced to them. The older the student is, the more likely he or she is to have the ability to deal with the negative aspects of tests and grades. Unfortunately, when fear of tests is ingrained in a young child, it may well stay with him or her forever.

As an adult learner, you may have difficulty taking tests. The first step toward improving the situation is to understand why you have this difficulty. It is not that you are a "dummy." You are simply a product of the system. If you have a fear of tests, the system taught you this at an early age. Knowing this now leads you to the next step, and that is to try and approach all learning and testing situations with a positive attitude.