"Every week when I go to school to take the test I feel like there's a gun at my head - a loaded gun pointed directly at my head."

It was shocking to hear my client talk this way; a very capable, highly articulate woman in her forties who was struggling to finish court reporting school.

The test she was referring to was the "Qualifier" - the extremely difficult exam which signals the completion of school and qualifies the student for the State Exam (the CSR) the last step in becoming a licensed court stenographer. The test involves taking dictation in a simulated courtroom at a speed of 200 words per minute and students must score 97.5% accuracy to pass!

"Every week I know that if I don't pass it means another week, another month, another quarter of being a total failure."

I understood exactly how she felt, and I know how hard it is to get through court reporting school. At the same time though, I knew that it was this very attitude, this "mindset" that was blocking her from passing the test. She had the "I must pass or I will die syndrome "- and she had it bad!

Some years ago an essay was published by Richard Carlson, Ph.D. (author of the best selling book, "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff") where he describes an approach, a "mindset" which has proven tremendously effective in helping people pass stressful exams. "The Magic of Non-Attachment" is the title and it suggests that to pass a test you should give it your best, work hard, really do your homework and go to the test with the intention of passing. But then... let go. Let go of the results! Come back to the truth: that pass or fail - you will be O.K. All of the "I will die (or I will be totally humiliated) if I don't pass" is simply not true! It's a lot drama - self-created drama - and it is blocking you from performing on the test. Who can perform with all that heavy weight on their shoulders?!

To come back to the truth: that you will be O.K no matter what happens with the test, releases you from the grip of desperation and anxiety. It frees you up to study, to focus, to retain information and to think on your feet on the day of the test. To embrace this approach, brings yourself back into balance about the test, and will significantly increase your odds of passing.

The very same afternoon following my session with the court reporter client, I had another client, also a court reporting student, who went to the same school. In addition to being a student, he'd taken a job working at the school's front desk. He had a very cool, relaxed attitude, and when I asked him about it he said, "...working at the school I know every student, I'm the one who gives them their books on the first day, and I see them every morning, every lunchtime, month after month, year after year. I can tell you right now which ones are going to succeed. The one's who get all bent out of shape about every test are going to get stuck and never finish school. The one's who take the tests without getting upset, the one's who don't seem to attach too much importance to every test - they're the ones who are going to be court reporters."

That's it. That's the Zen of test taking.

To learn more please visit Ben’s website at http://www.testanxietyguru.com
Benjamin Moss, C.HT.

Author's Bio: 

About Benjamin Moss, C.HT.

Board Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist Benjamin Moss, has been in practice since 1989. He specializes in reducing test anxiety to enhance test performance. Benjamin developed and refined his test-taking program during twenty years of sessions with his clients. He works with test-taking clients from all over the world, helping them pass exams in medicine, dentistry, law, psychiatry, psychology, nursing, accounting, real estate and computer science, as well as helping students with college and graduate school entrance exams. He also works extensively with police officers and firemen to keep them calm and focused for their professional exams.