One of the enduring worries teachers and researchers have about high-stakes standardized tests is that they don’t really reflect student knowledge because students are so nervous when they take the tests. Well there might be a way to fix the anxiety problem.

According to a study published in Science by researches from the University of Chicago:

Students who were prone to test anxiety improved their high-stakes test scores by nearly one grade point after they were given 10 minutes to write about what was causing them fear, according to the article, “Writing about Testing Boosts Exam Performance in the Classroom.”

The writing exercise allowed students to unload their anxieties before taking the test and accordingly freed up brainpower needed to complete the test successfully — brainpower that is normally occupied by worries about the test….

I suppose that makes sense but it’s not clear what applications this new discovery can have in the real world.

Technically doesn’t everyone already have the opportunity to write 10 minutes before the test begins? The test hasn’t started yet. Exam takers can do whatever they want then.
One wonders about essay examinations. Would students do better if they answered some multiple choice questions beforehand?

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer