The Impact of Mindset on Performance
Katy is a junior at an all-girls K-12 school.
Katy just failed a physics test. She studied extensively and knew the material inside and out, but she was stressed, exhausted, and she froze when she got to the hardest problem on the test.
Sasha is Katy's program director.
After Katy fails her physics test, she and Sasha decide to hop on the phone to talk through Katy's testing experience and map out a plan for her next test. Sasha reminds Katy that she already knows the material. Now she needs to manage the things that can get in the way of a great test performance.
Sasha gives Katy the following tips:
1) PINPOINT THE ANXIETY
Sasha asks Katy to rank her anxiety on a scale of 1-10 and identify where she imagines herself on this scale before, during, and after her next test. Sasha reminds Katy that her job is to expect anxiety (not get rid of it!) and to gently remind herself to go slow and steady, to find an easy question, and to use testing strategies.
2) ISOLATE THE THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS ASSOCIATED WITH ANXIETY
Sasha helps Katy identify what her thoughts and feelings are when experiencing anxiety. Sasha reminds Katy that in order to navigate the test as effectively as possible, she should move on to something her brain likes whenever she comes up against a testing roadblock.
3) USE BREATHING TECHNIQUES
Sasha asks Katy to set aside two minutes every morning and evening to incorporate breathing techniques into her daily routine. Sasha and Katy decide that whenever Katy is feeling a high level of anxiety she should pause, notice the negative sensations and thoughts, and do some breathing to bring her adrenaline level down.
4) USE POSITIVE VISUALIZATIONS
Sasha encourages Katy to use positive visualizations to perform in line with her preparation. Katy expresses that sometimes she has negative thoughts while testing like, "go faster!" or "why don't I test as well as my brother?" and Sasha reminds Katy to use positive thinking to keep her mind clear of these thoughts and focused on the test.
Here's Katy again, celebrating!
Katy shifted her behaviors around testing and anxiety and earned an A on her latest physics test!
Katy did not change her intellect or her comprehension, but she did change her performance. Now Katy knows what we, at TA, know: that performing well requires taking care of the mind.