Is Studying for the EPPP Affecting Your Mental Health?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Studying for the EPPP can be a stressful and overwhelming undertaking. Stress can be a normal part of the EPPP preparation process, therefore we must learn to manage it. But, what happens when it becomes more than stress and studying begins to affect your mental health?

In order to address the effect of studying on your mental health, you must first know the warning signs. Here are three signs that your mental health is being affected by studying.

  1. Panic Attack

A panic attack is characterized by any number of the following symptoms: shortness of breath, racing heart, dizziness, the sense that you’ve lost control, feeling faint, or a sense of terror.

If you do experience a panic attack, don’t try to fight it off. Instead, breathe deeply, engage yourself in your surroundings and allow the panic to subside.

  1. Forgetfulness

A surprising symptom of anxiety is forgetfulness. Because anxiety is overwhelming and consuming, it can cause you to forget things such as what you highlighted in last night’s study session. Furthermore, a hormone called cortisol is released when we experience stress. Cortisol is known for preventing the formation of memories.

  1. Depression

Symptoms of depression include feelings of sadness, disinterest in activities you once enjoyed, lack of energy, and anxiety. Experiencing depression during EPPP preparation can affect your motivation to study as well as your ability to maintain a healthy balance between studying and time with family and friends.

If you experience any, or a combination, of the above, then the stress of taking the EPPP is affecting your mental health. This means it is time to take a step back and get help. Talk to a trusted friend and seek professional help. A counselor can advise you on how to move forward through depression and anxiety.

If you don’t identify with the above symptoms, maintaining good mental health is key. Here are 3 ways to stay mentally healthy during EPPP prep.

  1. Know the warning signs of stress and burnout

Everyone reacts to stress differently, but here are a few possible warning signs of stress per The American Psychological Association (APA): Headaches, muscle tension, neck or back pain; Upset stomach; Dry mouth; Chest pains and rapid heartbeat; Difficulty falling or staying asleep; Fatigue.

Furthermore, if you feel like you have nothing left to give, you may be experiencing burnout.

Look at stress relief strategies here.

  1. Schedule breaks

When you create your study schedule, be sure to include breaks. During periods of rest, our brains store and organize the material we have learned. So, not only are breaks giving you rest to combat anxiety, but they are helping your memory and retention.

Your breaks should include small 5-10 minute breaks as well as longer 30 minute ones. Be sure to incorporate a good night’s sleep as well.

  1. Gratitude

Thinking thankful thoughts can literally detox your brain.  Thinking negatively creates toxins in your brain that can be combatted by shifting your thinking to positivity. By cultivating a positive, gratuitous attitude, you can starve your inclination to think negatively.

Not only will gratitude detox your brain and make you happier in general, but it will reduce stress and anxiety, ultimately making you mentally healthier.

References

Dunn, Carrie. “Mind over Matter: The Effects of Studying on Mental Health.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 6 Dec. 2008, www.theguardian.com/education/

2008/dec/06/mental-health-university-students.

“How Anxiety Can Cause Forgetfulness.” 7 Strategies for Dealing With Work Anxiety, www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/symptoms/forgetfulness.

“Listening to the Warning Signs of Stress .” Monitor on Psychology, American Psychological Association, www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress-signs.aspx.

Further Reading:

5 EPPP Study Habits that Will Improve Your Motivation

Unmotivated students are more likely to procrastinate studying which, in turn, affects their likelihood of a passing score. Are you struggling to stay motivated while studying for the EPPP? You are not alone.

Here are 5 study habits that will improve your motivation to study for the EPPP.

1. Personalize the Material.

The EPPP material is more than just concepts and terms to memorize for a test. When you study for the EPPP, think about how you will be able to use certain concepts once you become a licensed psychologist. Match ideas and scenarios you come across in studying with what you are experiencing in your life.

So much of the content can be associated with real-life scenarios in and of itself. But you can overcome your lack of motivation by personalizing terms, concepts, and scenarios with important people and places in your life.

 

2. Take Breaks

Avoid burnout by scheduling regular breaks into your study sessions. Furthermore, listen to what your body and brain needs. For example, tiredness can be a major factor in lack of motivation. Check in with yourself. Are you getting enough sleep at night? Getting sufficient sleep is a basic step towards creating a successful lifestyle in general.

Another type of tiredness is cognitive exhaustion. Breaking up your study sessions with rest will help you avoid mental fatigue. These breaks should ideally be taken outdoors involving some sort of activity that oxygenates the brain such as jogging, walking, or riding a bike. If weather is keeping you indoors, try eating a healthy meal during a break, take a bath, do yoga, listen to music, or just sit and do nothing. Whatever your method is for taking breaks, stay away from technology during this time.

3. Avoid Distractions

Ask yourself what it is that is distracting you from your EPPP studies. The idea is to remove the distraction so that you can more easily pursue studying. There are certain distractions, however, that are not removable such as work, family, and friends. In this case, consider studying in a place where you are away from family and friends like a library or coffee shop.

Maintain focus in your distraction-free environment by turning off your social media and email notifications. If you need to, give yourself a timed break to check email and media accounts. Furthermore, remove the distraction of sporadic thoughts (such as suddenly remembering to feed the neighbor’s cat) by keeping a notepad and pen next to you as you study. As sporadic thoughts appear, remove them from your brain by writing them down where they can serve as a reminder later.

4. Plan

Looking at the overall task of studying for the EPPP can be overwhelming. This can lead to not knowing where to begin or a lack of motivation to begin at all. Many people who are overwhelmed with the entirety of studying decide to randomly skip around study material without structure. Avoid random and unproductive study by making a realistic schedule so that you do not overload your working memory. Ask yourself what you can learn for today and focus on just that.

 

The Taylor Study Method can help you create your own personalized study schedule based on how much daily/weekly time you have as well as when you want to take your EPPP. Our team of researchers and engineers have identified the most effective ways to structure your study time. Our online tools break down your EPPP studies into manageable parts tailored to your unique schedule.

5. Visualize Success

Lastly, at the beginning of each study session, remember what all of this is for. Imagine all that you will be able to accomplish when you are a licensed psychologist. Imagine what it will feel like to get that passing score. Visualize the big picture success from and then back up to the smaller picture of having a successful study session today. Positive thinking is a powerful tool that leads to success.

 

Further Reading

Train Your Brain for Confidence on Exam Day

Exam day is often associated with anxiety. Whether the thought of taking the EPPP evokes negative emotions from test taking in your school days or more recent graduate school days, the anxiety can impact your EPPP test score.

Confidence on exam day is key to succeeding. So, how do you combat test anxiety and replace it with confidence?

Begin by understanding why the thought of test taking evokes anxiety.

Neurologically, due to your past experiences of anxiety during exams, the mere thought of test taking now ignites the feeling of anxiety in your brain’s cingulate gyrus, which is located deep in the cortex. Your brain has made an association between test taking and anxiety. Therefore, the two have been “wired” together in your brain and anxiety is now a habitual response to the thought of test taking.

To replace anxiety with confidence on exam day, your brain has some rewiring to do. Thankfully, due to the brain’s remarkable plasticity, certain associations can be reversed.

Throughout the Taylor Study Method process, you will take roughly 4,000 questions before EPPP exam day. If, during those practice questions, you stimulate the conditions of a test within the safe and relaxed environment of the TSM study process, your brain can begin to associate testing with relaxation or calmness.

In a way, TSM is providing you with 4,000 moments for your brain to adopt the habit of relaxing during an exam.

During these moments, you can actively practice desensitizing yourself to anxiety by going through stress relief strategies. To combat stress as it arises you might do a power stance, express gratitude, or focus on breathing. The more you practice stress-relief techniques and learn to relax during mock exam questions, the more your brain will remain calm at the thought of test taking.

Ultimately, by the end of the TSM study process, you will be capable of replicating your relaxed state throughout the actual EPPP exam.

And, as if reducing anxiety isn’t enough, taking 4,000 test questions before the exam has multiple benefits. Frequent testing improves memory and reinforces the information you will need to pass the EPPP. Practice tests can also reflect how well you understand the material before you take the test, so they can be an indicator of when you are ready to sit the exam.

The consequence of habitual relaxation during test taking, paired with increased memory and a surety that you’re ready, is confidence. And confidence during exam day is crucial to a passing score.

Are you interested in allowing our 4,000 test questions to help you combat test anxiety and pass the EPPP? Find out the many ways TSM can support you specifically to pass the EPPP.

For more information on how TSM can help you prepare confidently for your exam, call us at 877-510-5445.

 

Further Reading

 

 

Time Management on EPPP Test Day

When exam day comes, you will succeed by having thorough content knowledge and by being a strategic test taker. Come test day, all you should have to worry about is choosing the correct answers in the allotted time frame.

To be sure time doesn’t run out before you answer all the questions, we have some strategic tips on managing your time on EPPP test day.

Time management on test day starts 2 days before your EPPP when you’re getting your most important night’s sleep. The night before the exam you might be restless so it is important to sleep well two nights before your exam.

The night before your exam, prepare by packing necessities such as a snack and mandatory items for your exam, like your identification and PES information. Lay out your clothing the night before and be sure to choose layered clothing as you won’t know whether the testing center will be cold or hot.

You will need to arrive to the testing center a half an hour before your scheduled test time, so give yourself plenty of time the morning of to eat, get dressed, and drive there in a leisurely way as to avoid anxiety. Allow time for traffic and potential unintended travel mishaps.

When you get to the testing center, avoid test anxiety by minimizing conversation with other test takers and silently reminding yourself that you are going to do well. Tell yourself “Today is the day I will pass the EPPP!”

When it comes to time management on the actual exam, here’s the strategy we recommend at TSM.

You will have approximately 68 seconds per question within the allotted 4 hours and 15 minutes of exam time consisting of 225 questions total (175 scored and 50 pretest questions that are unscored). In the first 10-15 minutes of your exam, do what we call an “Information Dump.” Write out everything you’ve kept in your memory. This will give you the freedom to focus during your test because you can return to these notes when related questions come up. Although testing centers may not allow scratch paper, they can provide a white board upon request.

As you move through your exam, do not forget to take breaks. Dr. Graham Taylor goes over specific break strategies towards the end of his broadcast here.  Do not simply work until you feel tired and take a break then. Instead, plan breaks and take them to stay fresh and focused. There are two types of breaks you should decide ahead of time to take: mini breaks (3-5 minute) and full breaks (10 minutes).

If you decide to take mini breaks, choose one of two strategies. Either decide on a certain number of questions to complete before a break is taken (e.g., 25 questions), or decide on a period of time spent working (e.g., 25 minutes) before a break is taken. During these breaks, stand up, stretch, move, and breathe.

If you decide to take full breaks, take them after an hour and a half of work.  During these breaks, grab some fuel and food, use the restroom if you need to, stretch, and breathe.

Regardless of what you decide, take the breaks even if you feel like you don’t need to in the moment. Taking planned breaks will allow you to work from rest and stay fresh and focused as opposed to working hard for rest.

Lastly, take a deep breath before each question. Breathe in slowly through your nose, hold for a count of two, and then slowly exhale out of your mouth. While breathing, remind yourself that you can do this!

Time management on test day is all about coming in with a strategy. Develop your strategy and get accustomed to time management during practice tests then prepare as much as you can in the days leading up to your exam.

 

Further Reading:

The Best Way to Approach an EPPP Practice Test

TSM practice testsWhat are your EPPP practice test scores telling you? Among many benefits of EPPP practice tests, a score can reflect how well you understand the material. And how you approach EPPP practice tests can affect your overall exam success.

So, how do you know if you’ve got the right approach?

First, check your mindset. What do you think of and how do you feel about the EPPP? If you identify any negative thoughts or feelings towards your exam, consider this: Negativity creates toxins in your brain. Those toxins can cause anxiety and stress, which are the last things you need when studying for such an important exam.

Adopt the right mindset toward the EPPP with gratitude. Gratitude is a huge factor in having a good study experience as well as a passing score. Start by noticing your negative thoughts and then you can begin replacing them with thankfulness.

The next step towards the correct EPPP practice test approach is to understand the benefit of practice tests. Not only are they a reflection of your content knowledge, but test-taking has been proven to improve learning. Practice tests, therefore, not only gauge how well you know the content, but they are a great way of studying.

At TSM, our practice test method is designed to optimize this phenomenon of learning through test-taking. Our method allows your brain to construct the information into your memory and retrieve information during the actual exam.

Practice tests also reduce test anxiety on exam day. Anxiety can negatively affect our ability to perform, which then creates more anxiety, ultimately creating a cycle. A great way to combat test anxiety is to take practice exams. As you get closer to your exam date, begin mimicking the test-taking environment. Study in a quieter space and go through the questions with the same time constraints and breaks. The more prepared you are, the more comfortable and at ease you will be on exam day.

Though EPPP practice tests are vital to your memory and retention, they should not be used as a substitute for content mastery. This leads us to our next and final step.

The third step towards the correct EPPP practice test approach is to understand that, contrary to popular belief, the ability to answer questions correctly on practice tests is not always equivalent to content mastery. Since the practice test questions are different from what you will encounter on the actual exam, answering correctly on the practice test is only valuable if you understand the content behind the question. EPPP exam success is a combination of being a practiced test-taker and having a thorough understanding of the content.

The quality of your studying should be reflected in how well you understand the material as evidenced by your practice exam score. So, how well should you be doing on your practice exams? Within about a month or two of studying, you should see a noticeable improvement in your scoring. If you’re not seeing an improvement, it’s possible you are studying inefficiently.

But before you dive back into the study materials and retake the same practice test, study in a way that helps the material make sense to you. For example, instead of studying a domain beginning to end, take a problem concept with you into your study material and dive into that specific concept. Once you have those concepts mastered, you can take another practice exam. If there is still no noticeable improvement, you may have to reassess how you are studying.

Ultimately, you should approach EPPP practice tests with a good mindset, an understanding of the benefits, and a thorough knowledge of the content behind the questions. At Taylor Study Method, we help you formulate a study process and equip you with the best tools to pass the EPPP.

 

Further Reading

3 Myths About Test Anxiety

6 Steps to EPPP Success

Use Gratitude to Detox Your Brain

Gratitude as a Way of Seeing

The Question that Will Help You Pass the EPPP

3 Myths About Test Anxiety

The EPPP is a big undertaking. But for those with test anxiety, the exam can be an even greater challenge.

Per the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), test anxiety has many symptoms such as a racing heart, panic attacks, excessive sweating, inability to recall, and helplessness, to name a few. Generally, it is caused by a fear of failure, poor test history (or the pressure of good test history), and a lack of preparation.

Among the symptoms and causes, there are myths about test anxiety that can stand in the way of overcoming it.

Here are the top three myths about test anxiety.

1. Overcoming is impossible. 

This is the biggest myth of all. Test anxiety is common, and there are ways to manage it before and during exam day.
Continue reading

The Value of TSM’s Initial and Final Review Coaching Sessions

What is the difference between the initial and final review coaching session? Is one coaching
session more important than the other? How will participating in the coaching sessions help my
EPPP or CPLEE score?

Dr. Elizabeth Stanton addressed these questions in a Facebook Live event last month. In her
broadcast, she gave an overview of what the initial and final review coaching sessions entail.
She explained why utilizing both will contribute to a passing EPPP or CPLEE score.

 

Continue reading

Your EPPP Exam Day Routine

In all the focus on being academically prepared to take the EPPP, it’s easy to overlook some of the important practical preparations a candidate needs to do in order to be properly prepared.

In the video below, Dr. Graham Taylor walks us through the best practices for your exam day routine, from the moment you wake up through to the process of taking the exam itself. Dr. Taylor also addresses what the week before your exam should look like, as well as the day directly prior to it.