Write Your Worries Away

Students who are anxious about a test can improve their scores just by writing about their fears, according to a new study.

Researchers took 47 university students who were nervous about an upcoming exam and divided them into three groups. The first group was told to write about their fears 10 minutes before they took a math test. The second group was told to write about what they did the day before. And the third group relaxed for 10 minutes before the test.

The students who either wrote about an unrelated topic or simply relaxed decreased their usual test scores by seven per cent. The students who wrote about their jitters did four per cent better on the test.

The scientists conducted the same experiment using high school students and the results were similar. When kids were able to write out their feelings before the test, their marks went from B- to B+.

Why did this happen? When someone is under pressure, like right before an exam, part of the brain’s memory gets used up worrying about it. When you put your feelings down on paper, your brain no longer has to store that information, so you can fully concentrate on the test.

The scientist who conducted the study says she thinks the results could be applied to people in business who are stressed over an upcoming presentation or a job interview.



Writing/Discussion Prompt
Some students find school to be stressful.  Stress can be caused by tests, homework or problems with friends.  What are ways that schools and teachers could minimize the stress that students experience?

Reading Prompt
Compare your strategies to deal with stress to those in the article.
If you get nervous or stressed, what do you do to calm down?  Does it work?  Would you try the strategy in the article: writing about your nervousness?  Why or why not?

extend understanding of texts by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge and experience, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6)

extend understanding of texts by connecting, comparing, and contrasting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6)

Grammar Feature: Synonyms
Synonyms are different words that have similar meanings.  Some synonyms in the article are: nervous and anxious; test and exam; experiment and study; pressure and stress.

Think of synonyms for the following words:
1. Child
2. Teacher
3. Small
4. Soft
5. Jump
6. Create