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DeeDee, Advice Columnist

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Dear DeeDee,
I have been doing badly in some of my classes and was wondering what is it that I should do to get my grades higher. I turn in work but do bad on tests, what should I do? Is it that I don’t study? Or because I like to play video games?



Hello L.D.,

I get that this can be very frustrating as a student doing all of your homework, but doing badly on tests. Concentrating your efforts on good test taking strategies is likely to result in better test outcomes. The two areas to focus on are; your mental/emotional state (including negative thinking!), and strategies to prepare for and actually complete a test.  It is okay to like playing video games, but school comes first. You need to be able to have enough discipline to know that there are a time and a place for video games, which is once you’ve done your work, and studied. Then you can reward yourself. 

No one is born a bad test taker, however, what we are all born with is a fight or flight instinct, the basis for test anxiety. When you regard a test as a threat, that automatic fear response kicks in and makes it much harder to recall and apply your knowledge. I believe that a key factor of you not passing your tests is not studying. I think in your situation it is time for an attitude adjustment, and to learn test preparation skills. Here are 5 simple tips, that should help you improve your grades. 
1. Ease up on the perfectionist attitude.
 Sure you want to do well, but perfect test scores are pretty rare. If you’ve prepared, you can expect a good outcome.
2. Think positively during the test. 
Mentally repeating a positive mantra both calms you down and induces a positive attitude. You might try “I’m calm and confident” or “I remember what I’ve studied”.
3. Practice good study habits. 
Having a comfortable well-lit study area, and eliminate distractions like music or television noise. Don’t cram for a test the night before (you won’t have time to process the information into memory). 
4. Get a good night’s sleep and eat a healthy meal beforehand. 
Protein is brain food; sugar will just give you a brief burst of energy followed by a low.
5. Start with the questions you find easiest to answer while taking the test.
Use the process of elimination for multiple choice questions and scratch out wrong answers.
Chuck those negative labels and you are on your way to becoming a great test-taker!
Following this advice will assure you success on your upcoming tests!
Wishing you the best of luck,
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Dear DeeDee