Anxiety can cause students to freeze up when it comes to test time. Stress and nervousness cloud their working memory making it difficult for them to recall what they know.
A team of psychological scientists from the University of Chicago found a way to offset some of that anxiety (Chicago Tribune). A study revealed that having students write out their feelings about a test before taking it increased their success on the test.
The act of writing out their anxiety allowed students to clear those thoughts from their minds. Then, as they encountered the test, their brains were free to retrieve knowledge. (TIP: Students must write about their anxiety, not another topic. It’s not just writing to warm up the brain; it’s clearing the brain to think.)
Try this with your own students!