Conquering PM Testing Anxiety

PMI Southern Alberta Chapter

Mike Griffiths is a consultant and trainer who help organizations improve performance through shared leadership, agility and (un)common sense. He maintains the blog LeadingAnswers.com.

Research into test anxiety, its impact on test performance and strategies for intervention that were published in Science magazine in 2011offer some valuable tools for boosting performance. It turns out there is a 10-minute exercise that has been found to significantly boost performance. Here is an excerpt from the research paper:

 “Two laboratory and two randomized field experiments tested a writing intervention exercise designed to improve students’ scores on high stakes exams…The intervention, a brief expressive writing assignment that occurred immediately before taking an important test, significantly improved student exam scores, especially for students habitually anxious about test taking. Simply writing about one’s worries before a high-stakes exam can boost test scores.”

So, especially if you get nervous about important exams, this is a great tool for improving performance. Returning to the paper: “Studies have shown that when students feel an anxious desire to perform at a high level, they worry about the situation and its consequences. These worries compete for Working Memory (WM) available for performance. WM is a short-term memory system involved in the control and regulation of a limited amount of information immediately relevant to the task at hand. If the ability of WM to maintain task focus is disrupted …

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If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason.

- Jack Handey

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