TeStressing Times – Test the Stress or Stress the Test

On announcing my groups’ final testing dates, I can vividly remember one student coining the chunk, if I may say so, ‘TeStressing Times are coming.’ Well, in terms of pronunciation one might easily say she has aced the test. 

Living and learning seems to be a fair motto, I say. We all know that the end of an academic year or, our academic semester, is packed with surprises that most learners love, not to say hate. Either fortunately or unfortunately testing is one them. One thing is for sure, tests have always led some people to sleepless, coffeeful and other –less and –ful nights. Believe me, been there, done that!

However, there are a few things one can bear in mind in order not to panic. I am not so sure how these work out for others, but they have surely minimised my pain throughout my academic and professional life.

As for the academic front, first and foremost, we all join in the game aware that tests will be part of it. So take it as it comes, but get yourself together in terms of schedule, say, when, what and how to study. There is no point in studying for the last round if you have not got through the first one yet. Have a to-do list, instead, and tick learning items off your list as you go along. Then, a wonder! Secondly, set achievable goals – prioritise what needs the prefix ‘re’: redo, review, revise, rewrite and others. Try not overload your system by overdoing stuff. Stick to your schedule and focus on what is more relevant as opposed to too many items to cover. Thirdly, be committed with time – make sure you are well trained to fulfil the tasks within the time limit. Also, get to the test some time before so that you can feel the environment.

As for the profession front, I can recall a former teacher telling me once that she never wanted us to fail, but do well in his test. I have followed her footsteps and made sure that our test are, in the least bit, fair and doable. Jargons such as face and content validity are instrumental in helping us with this ‘make-a-test’ game. We need to couple together what is taught to what is tested or vice-verse, if you will. After all, the tests should reach out the students and enable them to reflect on the teaching-learning process. Secondly, create test mechanisms such as testing skills and systems using appropriate dates, tasks and resources. Thirdly, though it may sound a bit paradoxical, try and create a positive, stress-free testing environment where students can sense that you want them to succeed.

Bottom of line, one might be wondering like ‘I knew that’. You know, nothing like old successes, huh!

Adriano Zanetti

Adriano Zanetti – BA in Letras, Post-graduate in Language Teaching Methodologies, RSA Dip. DELTA. An educator for 30 years, an ELT consultant/teacher trainer at A2Z English Consultancy, a teacher/trainer/coordinator at FISK São João del Rei and Cambridge Assessment English Speaking Examiner. A Pronunciation SIG member responsible for Pronunciation courses for teachers/students. Presented several times in LABCI/ABCI conferences, Braz-Tesol Regional/National Chapters and different institutions in MG. a2zenglishconsult@gmail.com / dricozane@gmail.com

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