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Test Stress

Staff Writer, Chris Bennett

The stressful test. We’ve all been there. The teacher said there was going to be a test. A big test. That counts for 5% of the class grade. So you studied everyday, reviewed your notes, practiced problems. You’re ready. As you sit at your desk those tense few moments before the test begins, you feel like you’re in the zone. You know everything, nothing can stop you. The test starts, you look at the paper, and the panic begins. Sweat beads form as you think about the importance of the test and the possibility of failure. You obsess over the problems you can’t solve, second-guess yourself, forget some of what you’ve learned. The stress continues to amount as you check your answers. Are they right? Are they complete? Did I follow the instructions correctly? The test ends, it’s over. But did my hard work pay off? Did I get a good grade?

Welcome to the world of test anxiety, something many students here at Voyager Academy must often contend with. But what is test anxiety? Test anxiety is the fear of failure experienced before or during a test, and often prevents students from performing to the best of their ability by inducing panic and a wealth of other symptoms. Test anxiety can affect anyone, but how it does so largely depends on a person’s personality and mentality. Large tests, often those with a high degree of importance, can be especially taxing even for those who don’t experience test anxiety often. Unit tests, final exams, SATs, ACTs, and AP exams are some of the most stressing, as a good score can sometimes mean the difference between failing or passing, or whether or not a prestigious college will consider you as a potential student and/or offer a scholarship.

With tests, each student often has a time period or periods where the stress reaches an apex. For several students, the days leading to test day grow increasingly stressful, as they worry if they have studied enough, understand everything and attempt to balance test preparation with homework and extracurriculars. “With a big test, you know it’s coming, and the stress increases as it draws closer, ” stated freshman Daniel Bryant. “It’s a lot to manage.” added sophomore Noah Wells. Others don’t worry so much about the material on the test, but rather the impact on their class average. “Students find big tests stressful because they worry about the impact on their grade,” commented AP Human Geography and AP US History teacher James Mills. For some, the worry doesn’t begin until the test does. These individuals obsess over the actual test, rather than what is prior to or after the evaluation. Others still find the period after the test to be most stressful, as they worry about results and panic if they believe they missed a certain question or two.

In addition to experiencing stress during different time periods, many students experience different side effects from test anxiety. For some pupils, the struggle is heavily mental. They experience effects like loss of concentration, loss of memory, self-doubt, or compare themselves to others. They may also become easily agitated, emotional, or confused while they work. “Sometimes when I test, I panic. Other times, I feel self-doubt.” sophomore Kylie Cabrera commented. For others, the stress takes a more physical toll. These people may experience light-headedness, hyperventilation, or develop a rapid heartbeat. Many people react through movement, by doing things like pressing their hands to their temples, tapping their fingers or pencils, moving their legs, stroking their hair, biting their nails, or repeatedly shifting. “If I’m stressed when taking a test, I might bite my nails or shake my feet to deal with it.” commented sophomore Holden Buchanan. Christian Jimerson added “Under stress, I’ll fidget or tap my fingers on my desk to stay relaxed.”

It isn’t just the large exams that induce fear and apprehension either. Pop quizzes can often be just as excruciating. Since they are unpredictable in nature and focus on material students are just becoming familiar with, they often make pupils feel unprepared and constantly on edge about the possibility of one happening. Senior Ugonna Ezuma-igwe captured student’s feelings on the matter. “Pop quizzes are very stressful. I’m already stressed as it is, and now, I have to deal with a surprise quiz.” Pop quizzes rarely demonstrates a student’s full capabilities, as the influence of stress and the different learning pace among students often give inaccurate results. Due to this, many teachers have opted to only use them rarely, or not at all. “Pop quizzes are a poor assessment of a student’s knowledge.” stated MathⅠteacher Christian Gloade. “I don’t believe pop quizzes show what a student can really do.” added Microsoft teacher Charles Robinson.

Since tests can also be poor indicators of a student’s knowledge, especially for those that are heavily influenced by test anxiety, several teachers opt to perform testing rarely, or even decide not to give tests and quizzes. These teachers instead turn to a variety of other methods to convey information and assess knowledge, like projects, class games and activities, or group discussions. These different methods of information can help to assess students better by giving the opportunity to channel creativity and let students apply what they’ve learned, rather than simply use that knowledge to answer questions. One of the strongest supporters of this new method of academic assessment is Civics and Economics teacher Steven Gatlin, who has not given a test outside of the finals and midterms in six years. “I think tests are not the best way to assess knowledge. Projects are much more effective. They give students a chance to apply what they’ve learned in places outside of the classroom.”

While tests are now gradually losing popularity, they shall most likely remain a part of education forever, and will never vanish completely. So how should teachers test students? And how often should they do it? Many students reported most forms of testing beyond multiple choice are quite stressful for them, with the most troublesome being essay tests. While these types of tests are essential in English classes, and are sometimes used to measure how well a pupil can communicate knowledge, they often induce panic. It can be difficult to transfer one’s thoughts onto paper, and since answers must be designed, not chosen, leaving something out will often cost valuable points. The response of an anonymous student showed the reasoning behind the fear. “Essay tests are taxing. With multiple choice, there are options, while with essay tests, if the answer is even partially wrong, the teachers will subtract points.”

As for the subject of test frequency, opinions are widely varied among both teachers and students. Some believe testing should be used frequently, saying that it helps to keep material fresh, while others claim it should be used rarely, as a review of a unit or subject. Others even say it should never be used, since there are so many other assessment options and several issues with testing.

With testing forever remaining a part of education, test anxiety will also fail to vanish. With this in mind, it’s important to confront it and ensure the effects it causes remain minimal. But how should one do so? Naturally, studying is essential, since being unprepared or feeling so is the most likely the reason for both testing stress and lower scores. MathⅡteacher Yen Nguyen especially recommends studying, saying that a lack of preparation is the biggest stress inducer. “Lack of studying is the biggest contribution to test anxiety. In most cases, students don’t study until the last minute for a test. Then the test becomes stressful since they’re unprepared.” Also, don’t wait until the night before the test to study, but study several days in advance if you can.

When you study, don’t just look over notes and worksheets, but practice problems and/or have someone quiz you. If the test is on a topic that you struggle with, don’t wait until the day of the test or afterwards to get help. Go to tutoring or talk with a parent as soon as possible. The night before a test, go to bed somewhat early if you can, and eat a good, healthy breakfast the following morning. When you’re sleep deprived or hungry while taking a test, as it becomes challenging to concentrate and think clearly. For these same reasons, avoid all nighters or skipping breakfast before a test.

When you test, don’t linger over problems you don’t know. Do everything you’re comfortable with and then come back to the tough ones. If you keep trying to solve a hard problem, you could run out of time and miss the chance to answer easy questions that would have boosted your score. If you get really stressed in a test setting or are easily distracted by other students, consider asking the teacher to if you can test in another room or outside in the hall. After the test, don’t obsess over your score or what it is if you won’t find out until later. Try and remember that this test isn’t everything and instead of asking yourself “What’s my score?”, ask yourself “Do I know the material?”. Understanding what you’re learning matters more than what score you got on a test. However, if your score is really low, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you don’t, when that material reappears, it could hurt you again on future tests and class assignments, and even things like the finals or the SAT.

Also, remember this is only a test. Be more concerned about understanding the material than the score on your sheet. An A means nothing if you don’t truly understand what you’re learning and forget about it shortly afterwards. A C means everything if you know what you’re doing and you worked hard for it. Just try hard and work hard. Then no test will stand in your way on the road to success.

Works Cited:

Test Anxiety. Retrieved from https://adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/children/test-anxiety

Lyness, D’Arcy. (2013, July). Test Anxiety. Retrieved from http://kidshealth.org/en/teens/test-anxiety.html#



Should Apple’s new iphone cost one thousand dollars?

Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 2.44.02 PMSenior and Staff Writer, Ugonna Ezuma-Igwe

Apple released a new iPhone on September 13, 2017: The iPhone X. Before the release, the cost was rumored to be around thousand dollars. This would have been an significant increase in price compared to the average cost of previous iPhone. The average selling price of an iPhone is $605. The Viking Tide wanted to know about how the students and administrators of Voyager Academy felt about the new iPhone. We asked them if they would buy it, if Apple’s demographic of buyer change due to the significant price increase, and if the modifications of the iPhone is worth the price increase?

The significant price increase is due to the new features added to the iPhone. The major hardware changes are an edge-to-edge OLED screen, glass front and back and stainless steel frame. This is the first time Apple has put glass on the front and back. The OLED screen improves color accuracy, high contrast ratio, and true blacks. The major software changes are facial recognition, higher iPhone display resolution and wireless charging. The facial recognition allows you to simply raise the device, look at it, and swipe up on the screen to unlock the device and use Apple Pay. The iPhone X has the highest iPhone resolution ever with 458 pixels per inch. The X can now charge by being placed on an inductive charging pad.

We asked Ms.Wolfe, the English teacher for juniors and sophomores, if she would she buy the new iPhone. She said, “No, I don’t even have the new 7 and the reviews from the 7 don’t sound that great.” She went on to criticize the changes that were made to the iPhone 7 which lead to the next question; are the modifications of the phone worth the price increase? Her response was, “No, they are not they are just trying to get the money from people who are addicted to their phone.” She even went on to say that some of the new modifications, “sounded kind of creepy.” The idea that Apple is continuously trying to find new way to take people’s money was a common opinion among the people that were interviewed. Ms.Wolfe said, “it’s good to have the idea of buying quality and quantity but there is a point where that line is crossed,” and students agreed. She also believes, “There will be people that will buy it but there will also be a lot more people going another direction.”; this means that some people will have no problem buying the phone while a lot more will find an alternative option.

Seniors, Camryn Dunn and Caitlin Leggett, both said no to buying the phone, but for very different reasons. Camryn’s main problem is that, “they add things that are stupid.” She felt that the previous changes that have been made were unnecessary. For example, she felt that removing the headphone jack was useless because now people can not charge their phone and use their headphones. Referring back to what Ms.Wolfe said about Apple trying to get people’s money, Apple took away the headphone jack to give incentive to buyers to buy their new bluetooth earphones that did not require a jack. Unlike Camryn, Caitlin’s main problem was the price. She said, “No, that is .1 of my yearly college tuition.” She is currently working on college applications and the last thing she is ready to do is spend a thousand dollars on a phone.

We asked Mr. Ingram, the APES & Earth and Environmental teacher, if he would buy the new iPhone. He said, “I’m not paying a one thousand dollars for a phone,” and went to say even if he got a raise he still would not. He believes that Apple is heading in the wrong direction by following the competition. To elaborate he said, “their business model is based off innovation and giving the consumer what they want before they know what they want but instead they are following what the competition has already done.” He was saying that the new features on the IPhone X have already been on android phones. For example, in 2009 Palm released their smartphone, “Pre” that came with optional wireless charging. Phones with wireless charging are not new at all; they have been around for eight years. We then asked him, “would Apple’s demographic of buyer change,” and his response was, “Overall less people will change but at the end of the day if someone wants an iPhone then they’ll buy an iPhone.”

Overall, teachers and students were not willing to spend thousand dollars on the new iPhone, but they all had different rationale on why they would not. Many people really love Apple’s device, but do not love the price especially the fact that they keep increasing.

Plummer, L. (2017, September 19). Apple has unveiled its 10th anniversary iPhone X – here’s what you need to know. Retrieved September 19, 2017, from http://www.mirror.co.uk/tech/iphone-x-release-date-specs-10669502?service=responsive

The iPhone X (or whatever the new iPhone will be called) is expected to come with all the bells, & Screen, W. A. (2017, September 11). Is anyone really going to spend $1,000 on the iPhone X? Retrieved September 19, 2017, from http://money.cnn.com/2017/09/11/technology/gadgets/iphone-x-1000-dollars/index.html

Thursday September 14, 2017 6:00 AM PDT by Joe Rossignol, 1 hour ago on Front Page, 4 hours ago on Front Page, 15 hours ago on Front Page, 19 hours ago on Front Page, 20 hours ago on Front Page, . . . 1 day ago on Front Page. (2017, September 14). 50 New Features in iPhone X. Retrieved September 19, 2017, from https://www.macrumors.com/2017/09/14/50-new-features-in-iphone-x/

Palm Pre. (2017, September 17). Retrieved September 19, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palm_Pre

Sloane Stephens Wins Big at US Open

Staff Writer, Kylah Crooks

Over the weekend Sloane Stephens celebrated her first win in the U.S Open. She beat Madison keys 6-3, 6-0 which gave her the great win for the U.S. Open. This was a really big win for Sloane Stephens, not because she won a Grand Slam, but because she just recovered from a foot injury back in January.

After recovering from her foot surgery and receiving her first Grand Slam title, Stephens will also enjoy her $3.7 million check she received from an official post match. During an interview after her match, a reporter asked Stephens if her win motivated her to continue playing to win another title, Stephens replied by saying “Of course girl- did you see the check that that lady handed me? Man, if that doesn’t make you want to play tennis, I don’t know what will.”

Unknowingly, Sloane Stephens has become the new face of tennis. Before winning the Grand Slam title, she was ranking No. 957 now with the title she is ranking N0. 17. Stephens explains that after winning, it hasn’t sunk in that she is the U.S. Champion she explains, “It hasn’t sunk in yet,” Stephens said in her press conference, “but hopefully in a little while once I, like, am able to lay down and relax and think about it, I’ll realize that I really am the US Open champion.” Before winning the U.S. Open, Stephens was in a rough spot. Like stated previously, she was recovering from a foot surgery back in January. This surgery didn’t stop Stephens from wanting to compete in the U.S. Open.        

Back in April, Sloane was unable to walk when she called her Coach Kamau Murray explaining that she was ready to start practicing. Murray was surprised at the fact that Stephens was ready to begin practicing. They began practicing at the U.C.L.A. campus courts in May. Due to Stephens just learning how to walk Murray had her sitting on a wooden table with her racquet hitting balls. Neither Stephens or Murray would of thought she would win the Grand Slam title. For Stephens being the lowest ranked player to win the women’s title she really came a long way. Stephens was ecstatic to win the U.S. Open she explains “One day I’m going to, like, be able to show my kids that I won the U.S. Open,” Stephens said with the trophy next to her. “Like how many people can say that? Not many, and they already engraved my name on the locker. Like, hello. This is awesome.”

Senior, Ugonna Ezuma-Igwe says, “I think it’s amazing how she went from unknown to #17. I love that she’s representing black females in a positive way.” Madison Cater also said, “As a person who started tennis at an old age, an individual like Sloane Stephens is truly inspiring. She had people tell her she would never mount to anything, matter of fact, her number ranking is discouraging on its own. Along with that, during this year she went from barely being able to walk, to playing play defense while in a sprint, Sloane inspires to never give up on my aspirations no matter how far fetched they may seem at the time.” Stephens has inspired many girls not to give up in pursuit of their dreams.


Ohikuare, J., Tennis Champion Sloane Stephens US Prize Money Winner, Entertainment • Living • News • Work & Money, Ohikuare, W. B., & Images., P. C. (n.d.). U.S. Open Winner Sloane Stephens’ Reaction To Prize Money Is On Point. Retrieved September 12, 2017, from http://www.refinery29.com/2017/09/171704/sloane-stephens-us-open-winner
Clarey, C. (2017, September 09). Sloane Stephens Beats Madison Keys to Claim U.S. Open Title. Retrieved September 13, 2017, from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/09/sports/tennis/us-open-womens-final-madison-keys-sloane-stephens.html