I don’t have any scientific data to back me up on this (though it may exist) but I’m quite certain I’ve figured out at least one reason I tend to score fairly well on tests for courses, classes, and other evaluative procedures. Today I took a test. I took a big test. The test covered 2500 years (actually much more) of topics, over 3000 pages of material, an innumerable variety of topics, approximately 12 in-depth student presentations, a couple of in-class videos, and some other abstract topics. It covered countries all over the world and performance practices and practitioners from around the world. This was big. I was worried.
My worry, however, is always healthily in check. Part of the reason I couldn’t overly worry about this test was due to two other 20 minute presentations during the coming week. One of them determines my continued presence as a doctoral student. What I’ve found, however, is that those who worry generally study worried, show up worried, take the test worried, and worry about their grade until it is posted and their fears are realized in a low letter.
At some point you just have to give up. At some point you have to trust that your brain knows what it learned and that it will perform accordingly. The trick, though, is to have helped your brain all along by actually doing your readings, actually participating in class discussion, taking the time (and courage) to ask that question you have burning in your mind or making sure that you understand a concept or term clearly. The trick is to “study” all along by simply doing what was asked. If that is reading: read. If that is homework: do it. If that is research: get on the web or in that library. There is no good way to memorize everything at once so work on learning everything over time, chapter by chapter, concept by concept, and term by term. And remember: worrying doesn’t help you… unless it motivates you towards actions that will make you less worried. Good luck.