Friday, February 26, 2010

Recovering From Bad Tests

Anyone on this path, or any other, has tasted that sickening feeling when a test does not go as hoped, expected, and surely, not as wanted.

That was mine today.

You might recall, if you've been lingering around for awhile, I have bad test anxiety to the point where I have a pretty letter giving me extra time and a private room in which to take it, along with medication (propranolol). Didn't matter today.

Today, I was really ill prepared, tired, and overly anxious. My test result will more than likely show that. My concentration got broken on way into exam (Concerta helps greatly with concentration but when the focus is broken, it is hard, if not impossible, to get back on track mentally).

I felt like crap after... especially, when I got to the end of the exam and realized there was a blank sheet with a 20 pt question on it, that I had about 5 mins to answer. I knew how to do it and got to the point where the proctor came in and said I was done. Hopefully, I'll get a few points on that question.

I also checked to see the impact of this exam overall. There are many other ways to earn points in this class, so after panicking and stressing out, I realized, I just need to regroup, use this test as a benchmark, and improve.

The bigger question is how to improve.

First, I need to be better prepared. My son moving back home this past weekend notwithstanding, I needed to be better prepared, and only in review this past week, not scrambling to catch up, and get my crib sheet done.

So, next exam prep starts tomorrow. I will be on track, I will not fall behind.

Second, I need to work, rework, change up, and rework equations so that I truly understand no matter what variables are thrown my way. Today, there was the conversion from d=m/v to molality and molarity based upon a percentage of solid in solution. I can do that now, away from exam. However, I need to be able to do that in the testing environment and the only way I'm going to get to that point, is practicing moving variables around and seeing if I get same answers.

Third, I need to be rested. I've had about 2 hours of sleep a night since last weekend and I'm completely drained.

Fourth, now that I've found a quiet place to study on campus, I need to use it daily. Home is not quiet and it is home where the dogs are, where the food is, where my bed is, where my son resides and asks me to play video games with him.

I think I'll be okay overall. I'm very unhappy with results of this test but I will not drop the class and honestly, I will be okay.


Old MD Girl said...

Do every single problem in the text as practice before the exam at least once, and twice or more if you got it wrong the first time.

Also, with gen chem it's all about units. Learn the equations, but also get comfortable with setting stuff up so units cancel and the answer is in the units you want.

In the end, stoichiometry is basically accounting. You should be good at this.

A Doc 2 Be said...

All 147 at the end of each chapter?!

Okay, Dr. OMDG. I will!

Old MD Girl said...

Yes, all 147.

I am completely serious.

As you get the hang of things they should start going by pretty quickly.

If you don't know what you're doing? Then you really need the practice.

This goes double for when you take OChem.

A Doc 2 Be said...

Maybe that will help.

I do know what I'm doing with the homework problems.

The issue arises just before exam time:

my head pounds,
my hands go cold,
my heart races,
and I almost black out DURING the exam.

One time last year, I did blackout for about 5 seconds while taking the exam. That's why I was given propranolol.

But maybe if I do ALL the end of chapter problems, my anxiety will decrease...

Can't hurt to try.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear you had a bad test! That really sucks, been there. I think just like with anything else in life, its important to learn from your mistakes. It sounds like you have really analyzed what went wrong and you have a plan to overcome those issues in the future - that's awesome! I'm sure you will do better next time - Good luck and hope you get some sleep!

Old MD Girl said...

The goal is to get to the point where you don't even have to think. Thinking and stress don't mix. At least they don't for me.

You shouldn't have to figure anything out. It should all be an automatic regurgitation of what you've done before onto the page.

That's what med school is too, so it's good practice.

Jerri said...

I think I have the same problems you do. Last Wednesday I failed a Gen Chem test! A) I've never failed a test in my life B) I took this class last semester and dropped it halfway through the semester. I had already taken the EXACT same test last semester and passed with a B. I dropped it because I wasn't making an A and how will I ever get into med school if I don't make all A's. Needless to say, I cut off my nose to spite my face or something like that.

I agree with Old MD Girl. Practice, practice, practice. I did last time but not this time and it showed. You'll get it. One day you'll be calculating molar mass and it will just click.

This may be weird advice coming from someone who just failed a test, but truly I know I'm not dumb and clearly neither are you. I just freak myself out before tests and overload my brain with all the wrong information. Also, have you ever been spoken to anyone about having ADD? I found out when I was 25 that I had it and now my life makes perfect sense. I was on Adderall for a few months until I couldn't afford it and my life was completely changed for the better.

Anyway, hang in there. You WILL get it!

A Doc 2 Be said...

I was diagnosed last year with major test anxiety and put on propranolol. Typically, that medication is prescribed for patients with high blood pressure but in my case, I take a much lower dose for a specific incident (tests) and not every day. I can do the conversions outside of tests, but literally implode during the exam.

Also, I think Concerta is probably similar to Adderall. I was diagnosed by my ex-boyfriend (a physician) with ADHD and it was suggested. My own FP then gave it to me.

The test this week was COMPLETELY my fault. There was no medication that could have helped it was totally my preparation, or lack of, for it.

My son just moved home last weekend and needless to say; the discombobulation with that, his video game playing replete with a headset and subsequent yelling in the middle of the night not to mention the distraction, and ultimately, lack of sleep; did me in.

I've since found a quiet place to study OUTSIDE the home where I can be in peace, and he can play his vid games to his heart's content :)

Going to follow OMDG's advice and do every problem in the end of chapters. Like she said, if I can regurgitate without thinking, I'll be fine.

I'll be okay. Just really disappointed and if I might add, really embarrassed. The professor who teaches the class might be equally as disappointed as me, in my performance.