Career & Education

GSAT students get anti-stress lessons

BY PENDA HONEYGHAN Observer writer

Friday, March 17, 2017    

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AFTER months of preparing for the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT), students completed the first set of papers yesterday and will be free when they complete the final sitting today.


While much work has been invested to ensure students were equipped with the right material for each assessment, one St Andrew-based school wanted to make sure that its students were also armed with the appropriate techniques to manage the stress and other anxieties during the exam.

Last week, for the second consecutive year, Rousseau Primary invited orthopaedic surgeon Dr Rory Dixon to the school’s annual GSAT Motivational Talk to demonstrate how students could ward off stress and anxiety by practising better sitting posture and exercises.

“As soon as you wake up you can improve your brain activity and general alertness through exercise. As part of your ‘wake up’ exercise, do some stretches and a warm-up march, possibly to soothing music, before showering. Then you want to do some gentle head spins, roll your shoulders and torso. Also, roll your thighs in a circular manner to improve blood flow,” Dr Dixon advised students, who were busy writing down tips.

Dr Dixon said that these exercises generally encourage alertness and confidence but in order to ensure longevity for the exams there are other exercises for students to practise so that they do not become uncomfortable or exhausted to the point that it affects their performance.

“Your brain is the most important organ. It weighs 10 pounds; therefore, you want to ensure you keep it squarely on your shoulders and not lean forwards from your neck as it will cause neck pain. Next, make sure you sit down at your desk properly with your feet squarely to the ground. Sit close to the desk with feet flat on the floor with your back upright and relaxed with elbows at 90 degrees,” Dr Dixon told the students, while physiotherapist at the Kingston Public Hospital Christopher Kelly demonstrated the proper sitting procedure.

He also advised students that maximising blood flow to the brain is also important and may be achieved through stretching the basic muscles. He demonstrated a variety of workouts that do not require students to leave their seats – including hand, finger, shoulder and arm exercises, leg and calf muscle workouts, and head and ankle rotation techniques. These techniques, Dr Dixon said, has the added benefit of reducing body tension and warding off sleepiness.

Dr Dixon also told the students to do deep breathing exercises to aid in concentration, focus and to avoid examination fatigue. In addition, he said students should aim for the recommended eight hours of sleep all the time but particularly before exams, as well as they should avoid sleeping with the light on.

Rousseau Primary principal Owen Speid, in addressing the more than 200 students, told them that they were properly prepared and ready to tackle the communication task test which is usually administered on the second of the two-day exam.

He told students that they should read through the questions at least twice before answering, to analyse and to point out keywords when they are unclear about what is being asked, or to use context clues to understand questions asked or situations presented in the exam. He also told them of the importance of using synonyms when writing stories, writing a plan before a story is written, and most importantly, reading over and checking all information written down, a principle which he said should be used as a guide in all exams.

Students were also advised on the importance of using cushions to reduce pain and tiredness associated with sitting for lengthy periods and reduce sweating from direct contact with a metal chair.

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