Science and Technology

Write about your fears can reduce anxiety before a test

The researchers demonstrated that students prone to anxiety have improved their writing scores by 10 minutes

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Alunos podem diminuir a ansiedade, comum antes de provas, escrevendo sobre suas preocupações alguns minutos antes do exame
Alunos podem diminuir a ansiedade, comum antes de provas, escrevendo sobre suas preocupações alguns minutos antes do exame

Students can reduce anxiety, common before tests, writing about their concerns a few minutes before the examination, concluded researchers at the University of Chicago. The study was published in the journal Science.

The researchers found that students who were prone to anxiety have improved their scores after draft it for 10 minutes about what was causing fear.

According to the article, "write about the test increases the performance on the exam in the classroom." The article is based on research supported by National Science Foundation.

The writing exercise allowed students to vent their anxieties take the test and thus free up intellectual resources needed to complete the test successfully - brainpower normally occupied by concerns about the test, explained study leader, Sian Beilock, professor of psychology at the university.

Another study showed that Beilock pressure situations deplete the processing power of the brain, known as working memory, important for many daily activities.

Working memory is a lot of mental scratch pad that lets people retrieve and use information on the task at hand.

"Although people are often motivated to play their best, the pressure situations can reduce the level of skill," said Beilock.

Putting theory into practice

Other research has shown that expressive writing, in which people repeatedly write about a traumatic experience or emotional over weeks or several months, is an effective technique to decrease the concerns in an individual.

In the current study, researchers wanted to determine whether students could benefit from writing in the classroom so that they could lessen their anxiety and improve their performance.

The researchers start with the hypothesis that writing before a big event would be enough to boost the control of anxiety.

The researchers recruited 20 college students and two short tests applied mathematics. In the first test, students were asked to do their best. Before the second test, the researchers created a situation to produce stress, said those who were to conduct the test would receive money and other students who depended on them as part of a team effort. Students were informed that their tests would be videotaped and reviewed by teachers of mathematics.

Half the students were then given 10 minutes to write expressively about their feelings about the event (expressive writing group) and the other half just did the test (control group).

"The writing group had a significantly better performance than the control group," write the authors.

Examinations with students from other disciplines were applied to confirm the hypothesis.