My Autistic Experience – Where My Focus Lies

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything for this blog, and this is for a few reasons.

The first is an easy response. I have been very busy as a graduate student. I started graduate studies back in the summer and thus far I am finding it to be quite enjoyable. While it is hard work, I find that most of it is more suited to my skills. I like doing research and discovering new things. I also like teaching, although I have fewer opportunities to do so. In this case I will make do with my voice on this blog.

The second answer requires some thought and is far less flattering. I have tried a few times to write a post. I have even received a few ideas that I thought were good and attempted numerous times to write.

And yet – try as I might – I cannot motivate myself to write anything.

I’m not depressed or anything like that. I have read enough posts on this blog to know that I am not prone to the state of mind associated with depression. I am more prone to lashing out at an inanimate object in my room.

On one hand I am simply having trouble coming up with things to say on the subject. I feel like I have covered my past quite thoroughly, and I am not terribly interested in covering more recent events.

On the other hand, I think that I am just bored of this subject matter. Having covered everything, I feel like I have little else left to say. I don’t feel like we are covering any new ground. We’re just covering the same ideas over and over and over again like clockwork.

There are a lot of things that I would be interested in talking about, but I don’t think they are appropriate for a mental health blog. There are perhaps some mental health related subjects I’d be interested in discussing, and that began with my previous post (My Autistic Experience – What IS So Funny About Mental Illness?). It was my attempt to probe at a question that is asked too often but answered rarely – something that I find is rather unfortunate. I have lost track of the number of times I have said that in order to come up with a good solution to a problem, we need to understand its source.

It is a double-edged sword to see things that others do not. My condition is a mixed bag of blessings and curses. For every social situation I struggle to grasp, there is another sort of problem with a solution that I see as obvious, yet a problem that I see as obvious is a problem that others have to think about. Perhaps in my ignorance I think they are shallow – my instinct is that others who do not see what I see must not be thinking about the problem honestly and openly.

How does someone like me bring about the solutions they have in their mind that no one else sees? I suppose by reaching out to people one at a time – showing them what I see and being patient.

I have read through the post introducing the Student Advisory Committee and I am fascinated by how much they care about the issue of mental health. I am also fascinated by the differences between their approach and mine. On some level it is probably the reason that they are the members of the Student Advisory Committee. I am interested in seeing what they do, and I hope they see the merit of what I have to say.

Will I continue to post on the blog? I suspect I will on occasion, if I can think of something to say and overcome my lack of motivation. I will continue to read what people have to say and I will comment when I have something to say.

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Seasonal Affective Disorder

Ever since the time change a few weeks ago, I have been finding it so hard to stay awake and find motivation to do things throughout the day. All of a sudden I look out my window at 5:30 expecting to see a beautiful blue sky, but instead just being faced with darkness. It may not be that big of a deal to some people, but as someone with SAD the darkness outside seems to dictate the way I feel on the inside. I find myself constantly lying in bed under the covers with no hope or motivation to keep going, which is a totally normal thing for me to do during this time of the year.

For those of you that aren’t quite sure what SAD is; it is a mood disorder in which people have normal mental health throughout most of the year, but have an onset of depression around the same time each year. For most people, it is during the winter months. I have never really been one to be excited for Christmas, and I always wondered why, because everyone else seemed to love it. Along with the winter months, everyone would be so excited to get out and build snowmen or go tobogganing and I would just be inside dreading the fact that the next few months would only contain the feeling of sadness and emptiness. Then I heard about SAD and it all made sense to me.

It is extremely difficult to force myself to be excited for the holidays, or for finals to be over, or anything for that matter when I’m feeling like this. Which is especially difficult when everyone around me is in what seems to be like a state of pure joy for the upcoming holidays. I hate feeling like this. So this year, I’ve been doing my best to maintain a normal sleeping pattern and forcing myself to not take naps during the day time in the hope that maybe it will help me get into a positive state of mind. I can’t wait for the day when there is a general understanding of what SAD is and how it affects so many people, just so that my feelings during this time of the year are understood.

Speaking Up

A few years ago one of my best friends was ranting to me over text about numerous things in her life (her boyfriend, family, school, work, etc). She began telling me how she hadn’t felt like herself in the past few weeks, often feeling worthless and depressed. This immediately worried me. She has always been a very happy and energetic individual, who only gets upset when something is really wrong. I have always called her the second I found out something negative happened in her life, mostly breakups and huge fights with her mom. She is well aware that I am always here for her and so is my family. My mom has told her that if for any reason she gets kicked out or doesn’t want to spend the night at home, she is welcome at our house. But, this wasn’t the case this time. She didn’t need a shoulder to cry on or a place to stay. She just needed me to listen. Through our conversation, she began implying that she had wanted to self-harm over the past few weeks. This concerned me and caused me to worry that she had even considered taking her own life, and just wasn’t going to mention this to me, knowing I would tell someone if she had. She begged me not to tell her boyfriend, and especially not her mom about how she had been feeling and the thoughts she had been having.

But I couldn’t sit back and let something happen. The guilt would have never gone away had she done something to harm herself and I didn’t speak up when I had the chance. So I told my mom. Our mothers are close friends and have been for many years. Naturally, my mom informed her mom, and my best friend was now mad at me. She told me I had lost her trust and wasn’t sure if she would ever be able to trust me again. Of course this hurt me, but I didn’t care if it ruined our friendship, as long as I did everything within my power to keep her alive and safe. I love her so much that I was okay with her being mad at me, no matter how long it lasted.

I was a little worried about going to school the next day and seeing her. I wasn’t sure if she would still talk to me or ignore me completely. Surprisingly I walked over to the table in the cafeteria where our friend group sat every morning and she said hi as if nothing was wrong. I would say that for a while she was a little more distant and definitely didn’t tell me anything to personal, but we still hung out at school and talked every day. Over time she began to trust me again. I’m not sure exactly why she came to this decision, or why she did so soon, but I am extremely thankful she did. I honestly cannot imagine my life without her. She’s my go to gal when I have a problem, and we always fun when we’re together. I know I will be both happy and proud of my decision to speak up about my concern for her for the rest of my life.

My Experience with Stigmatization

Stigmatization – the degrading attitude that discredits a person because of an attribute they have (in this case, mental illnesses). 

Stigmatization is the one thing we all learn about in school, the one attitude that can discriminate and make others feel helpless because of a certain attribute they may have. My experience with stigmatization is a bit different than what others may have, it has not directly happened to me, but others that I have been around.

I volunteer at a great government-run organization where I get to help children under 12 who have a wide range of mental health issues. I have the pleasure to volunteer with children who live with depression, anxiety, OCD, ODD, autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, and many other mental health related disorders. I get to know these children, I get to hangout with them, I get to listen to their hardships, their achievements, and their stories about birthday parties and school days. As much as I love this position, it can be hard at times because I get to know many children who are taught to hide and be ashamed of their issues.

Its sad to think children this young have been taught to keep quiet about their issues, to act as though they do not have them. I remember one pair of siblings who told me they weren’t allowed to tell their friends or family that they come to the organization – instead they tell their friends they go to a babysitter’s house. I’ve had another child ask me if he’s a bad person because of his diagnosis, and another laugh about how her parents tell her to lie to her friends about who I am (I guess I’m her “fake” cousin). These children are so young, yet are already taught that they need to “hide” a part of them, as if attending this organization is unnatural. This makes them feel as though their mental illness is wrong, is something to be ashamed of, and is something that you need to lie about in order to be considered “normal”.

My question is what is the big deal? Why is society so quick to stigmatize mental health issues – and why are parents teaching their children that having a mental health disorder must be hidden? These creative, smart, witty little individuals are being taught that their psychological disorders are restricting, rather than something that is completely manageable. A person is not defeated by a diagnosis; a person should not be labelled as their diagnosis; a person and his or her diagnosis are separate entities that live together. We need to break this cycle of stigmatization and ensure children, teenagers, and adults don’t have to be ashamed of their mental health. We need to stop labelling mental health issues as “abnormal”, because in reality, what is normal anyways?

 

Useful Mental Health Apps

Online Mental Health Apps do not replace professional and personal support, especially if you are experiencing significant distress or mental illness. However, they can be complementing the help you are getting from professionals, family and friends. There are some great online self-help resources as well as numerous mental health apps that many people find very useful in maintaining their mental health and well-being. Here is a list of FREE mental health apps.

Emotion and Stress Management:

HealthyMinds

iPhone rating: N/A

Android rating: 4 stars

http://www.theroyal.ca/mental-health-centre/apps/healthymindsapp/

HealthyMinds is a problem-solving tool to help deal with emotions and cope with the stresses you encounter both on and off campus, with the goal of keeping your mind healthy. The app helps you identify how you think and react to challenges in your life, and offers problem-solving techniques to help you better react to future challenges and stresses. Other features include stress-busting exercises, information about food and healthy eating, and breathing exercises.

TruReach

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.airnauts.trh&hl=en

Android rating: 4 stars

TruReach is mental wellness on the go. Learn skills that help you deal with anxiety, stress, and feeling down. This app breaks down cognitive behavioural therapy into 18 quick, 5-minute lessons, covering topics including: identifying emotions, identifying thoughts, goal setting, and thought tests.

Anxiety:

MindShift

iPhone rating: 4 stars

Android rating: 4 stars

https://www.anxietybc.com/resources/mindshift-app

MindShift is an app designed to help teens and young adults cope with anxiety. The app will help you learn how to relax, develop more helpful ways of thinking, and identify active steps that will help you take charge of your anxiety. MindShift includes strategies to deal with everyday anxiety, as well as specific tools to deal with test anxiety, perfectionism, social anxiety, performance anxiety, worry, panic, and conflict.

Self-Help for Anxiety Management (SAM)

iPhone rating: 4.5 stars

Android rating: 4 stars

http://sam-app.org.uk/

Self-Help for Anxiety Management is an app designed to help you understand and manage anxiety. You can monitor your anxious thoughts and behaviours over time, as well as manage your anxiety through self-help exercises and private reflection. You can also share your experiences with other app users while keeping your identity private.

Flowy

iPhone rating: 3.5 stars

Android rating: 4 stars

http://www.flowygame.com/

Flowy is a mobile game designed to help people manage their panic attacks and anxiety symptoms in a fun, distracting way. The game is based on breathing retraining, a breathing technique that can be used to combat panic and anxiety symptoms whenever they arise. The app developers conducted a study to prove the effectiveness of the game in managing anxiety symptoms and found that Flowy measurably reduced symptoms of anxiety, panic, and hyperventilation.

Mindfulness:

Headspace

https://www.headspace.com/

iPhone rating: 4.5 stars

Android rating: 4 stars

Headspace is your own personal trainer, here to help you train your mind. Numerous selections of meditation and mindfulness techniques to suit your mood and lifestyle are available. Choose your session length, replay your favourites, and learn how to apply mindfulness to your everyday activities. The app lets you track your progress and stats, as well as lets you buddy up with friends.

Stop, Breathe & Think 

http://www.stopbreathethink.org/

iPhone rating: 4 stars

Android rating: 4 stars

Stop, Breathe & Think is a free mindfulness, meditation, and compassion-building lifestyle tool which is both fun and easy to use. Tune into how you are thinking and feeling, and selection emotions to help guide you in the recommended meditations. Emotions can be tracked both pre and post meditation, and you can even share your favourite calming exercises.

Depression and Mood Disorders:

Moodlytics

iPhone rating: 5 stars

Android rating: 4 stars

http://www.moodlytics.com/

Moodlytics is a mood tracking app which allows you to log your moods and track them periodically. The app has a variety of features: you can track your moods with emojis, attach photos, journal your feelings, set reminders, set mood goals, and log moods from past days. Once you have logged for several days, you can create charts that let you look back and visualize your mood patterns.
T2 Mood Tracker

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/t2-mood-tracker/id428373825?mt=8

iPhone rating: 4.5 stars

Android rating: 4 stars

T2 Mood Tracker allows users to monitor their moods on 6 pre-loaded scales (anxiety, stress, depression, brain injury, post-traumatic stress, and general well-being. Custom scales can also be created. Users rate their moods, which are then displayed on graphs to help users track their moods.

DBSA Wellness Tracker

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/dbsa-wellness-tracker/id638583516?mt=8

iPhone rating:

Android rating: 4 stars

The DBSA Wellness Tracker is a user-friendly app which allows you to keep track of your emotional, mental, and physical health. The app has a report feature which gives you a summary of your health trends. This can help you better recognize potential health problems and mood triggers in your life.

Eating Disorders:

Recovery Record

iPhone rating: 5 stars

Android rating: 4.5 stars

https://www.recoveryrecord.com/

Recovery Record is an eating disorder recovery app with a number of features. Not only does the app allow you to log your meals, you are also able to record your behaviours, thoughts, and feelings associated with each meal. You can also create meal plans and record coping skills. You can even connect with your clinician if they download the clinician version of the app. Your clinician will have access to your meal logs and can keep track of your progress in between in-person sessions.

Rise Up + Recover

iPhone rating: 5 stars

Android rating: 4.5 stars

https://www.recoverywarriors.com/app/

Rise Up + Recover is an eating disorder management app with several features. The app allows you to log your meals, track your emotions, behaviours and thoughts, and export PDF summaries of your progress to share with your treatment team.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):

PTSD Coach Canada

PTSD Coach Canada was developed by Veterans Affairs Canada in partnership with the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Mental Health Association. The PTSD Coach Canada app can help you learn about and manage symptoms that can occur after trauma. This app provides reliable information on PTSD and treatments, tools for screening and tracking your symptoms, and easy-to-use tools to help you handle stress symptoms.

Suicide Prevention:

DMHS

Android rating: 4 stars

http://dmhs.ca/resources/mobile-app/

The Durham Mental Health Services Suicide Prevention App is designed to provide information about suicide intervention, suicide prevention, and mental health resources. A direct link to a 24-hour telephone support C.A.L.L (Crisis Access Linkage Line) is provided.

Be Safe

iPhone rating: 3.5 stars

Android rating: 4.5 stars

https://besafeapp.ca/index.php

Be Safe is a suicide prevention app that aims to help young adults seek help in a crisis. The app was developed in partnership with youth and professionals. Be Safe allows users to create a digital safety plan, informs users about mental health and addiction resources in their local community, directs users to the best options for their needs through a decision-making aid, and empowers the user to reach out safely.

 

This is not a full list and many other options are available for students. If you are using an app that you find helpful, please share it on the comment section below.

Time to get back on track

To say the last month has been a whirlwind would be a severe understatement. Having submitted my law school application (!!!!), I can finally sit back and relax to some extent. However, the last month I haven’t been taking care of myself mentally or physically.

I haven’t been following my prescribed nutritional plan because it’s so much easier to pick up a piece of pizza than cook a full meal, and a healthy one at that. Usually I’m in the gym five days a week, but I haven’t been in nearly a week. I also haven’t been taking the time to care for myself mentally – I’ve been letting everything pile up, not engaging in self care, and not opening up to my friends about my feelings as much as I should be.

That being said, I’ve been able to recognize that it’s time to get back on track. Taking a break was something I needed; pushing myself beyond my limits would have just made everything worse. But now that things are a tiny bit less hectic, I’m excited to work towards feeling better mentally and physically. There’s no sense in being hard on myself because I’m only human, and sometimes we all need to take a step back and do what makes us okay in that moment – and if that includes eating 15 mini Kit-Kats while I write a paper, so be it!

What I think is most important is not being hard on myself – it’s so easy to beat yourself up for eating that chocolate, or for not going to the gym when you know you probably should have. That being said, sometimes it’s a struggle to do the things you should, and as long as I get back to where I need to be, I’m not going to make things harder on myself.

Plus…that chocolate was totally worth it!

Are You Overworking Yourself?

Let’s face it, most of us have overbearing schedules and too many commitments. We wish there were 48 hours in a 24 hour day just so there would enough time to complete all the tasks that are required from us. I’ll admit it, I have experienced work overload way too many times in this school year alone – and it isn’t even half way finished! Responsibilities like family life and babysitting my brothers, attending class and completing assignments, my volunteer commitments, my job commitments, and of course having a social life (when I have time..) sometimes crash down on my shoulders all at once leaving me face down in the dirt. I have felt miserable over not having time to myself, I have felt stressed out because I didn’t have time to relax, and I have felt alone because I didn’t have time to see my family and friends. We all overwork ourselves at one time or another. Whether it be from procrastination (and having to write a 10 page essay the night before its due – P.S. don’t do this, its a bad idea), working too many hours at work, or whatever other reasons you may have. To simply put it, overworking yourself sucks. When you put too much time and energy into your responsibilities without allowing yourself to regenerate, you’ll experience burnout. Here are some tips and tricks to help you refrain from overworking yourself.

(1) CARRY AN AGENDA – Seriously, this is my NUMBER ONE tip for you. Having the ability to plan ahead and actually see when your commitments are due is a miracle. Have you ever had that panic feeling when you look at a syllabus and realize you have a paper due that week? Guess what – an agenda will save you from this nightmare. Write down every class time, every assignment that is due, every midterm day, every volunteer date,  your job schedule, and whatever other commitments you may have.  You will officially have the advantage over your workload, you will be able to tell what weeks are super busy and prioritize where you should focus your time. And lets be real, you’ll actually have a valid reason to use the phrase “let me check my schedule” when booking an appointment. Organization is the key to help you relax, I promise.

(2) SET DATES FOR YOUR SOCIAL LIFE – The one thing that irks me is when my friends and family ask me to go out to dinner or a movie last minute and I can’t make it. This happens all of the time, us busy bees tend to always miss out on fun things because we are occupied with other commitments at that moment. Key phrase – we are busy AT THAT MOMENT. We aren’t busy all of the time, so instead of missing out, plan ahead with your friends! I’ve been through weeks where I have felt gloomy because I’ve been constrained to the 4 walls of my work space, no contact with friends, and no nights out. Don’t pull a me – plan ahead and enjoy your time while you have it!

(3) DO NOT BE A PROCRASTINATOR! – I know it is easy to say, but procrastination is a huge contributor to burnout. I struggle with procrastination – it is the one thing I have struggled with from the beginning of high school, it has continued throughout my university career, and it has made me go bonkers. Having a start on your assignments means having more time to relax and do things that you want to do. Do you know how great you feel when you have a paper due in a few weeks and only have to work on the last couple paragraphs because you’ve already started? Or how much easier it is to study when you already have your notes printed out prior to the midterm week? When you have free time or are bored, instead of spending meaningless hours on your phone watching cat videos, why don’t you start looking at assignments that are due later on? You won’t have the added stress of having to complete hour long assignments if you break it down beforehand. Scheduling in time for my assignments is one *new* technique I’ve tried this year, and being a chronic procrastinator – it has helped!

 

A Good Nights Sleep

We all can agree that sleep is wonderful…for those who can sleep or those who have a regular sleep schedule. From my experience being in university, there are three main types of sleep a university student can have: *Feel free to add your own in the comments section below

  1. The “I am going to go to bed early so I will be well rested,” but your body, or mind, or both feel like you just ran a marathon and are too wide awake to sleep (despite your desire to). And thus you fall asleep much later than intended or 1 hour before you are supposed to wake up.
  2. The “I have an assignment and/or test that I need to work on and I don’t want to go to bed”. Shrugging off all the studies that show that sleep actually helps you learn and retain information, because like me sometimes you feel that some how you are the exception. Spoiler alert! Though it may be in different quantities for every person, no one is the exception, we all need our sleep.
  3. The ever allusive good night sleep. Which some times comes from being so exhausted you just crash, or your body/mind finally goes to bed once you lay down. However, this can sometimes lead to sleeping-in the next day. Hopefully the next day is a day off from school and work for those reading this. However, in my experience it has either caused me to almost miss my bus/ride to school or as a result of a very good night sleep, I have slept half of what was supposed to be a productive Saturday away.

Never the less, we try our best. We try and take those who give us tips and tricks to sleep in combination with reading countless studies and articles on what will get us to sleep faster and more peacefully. But at the end of the day, you have to take other’s advice with a grain of salt and look inward (and I know for some this might sound silly), but really ask yourself why you aren’t getting a good enough sleep.

Are there external factors causing a lack of sleep, internal, or maybe a bit of both? For me I know it is a mixture of both. It’s equal parts – my body is wide awake, I feel restless, uncomfortable, and I just want to be hit over the head with one of those cartoon mallets and have stars or birds fly around my head. On the other side, I know I have a problem with completing assignments the night before they are due. And let me clarify, I do not procrastinate, I really do plan out what I want to do. And yet, without fail I always end up putting everything together the night before, regardless of any preparation I might do. Because something can always be fixed or tweaked. And finally, sometimes I let myself get so exhausted, running around and trying to get things done that I just pass out once my head hits the pillow. Usually waking to an unknown time, my phone, glasses, and headphones still somewhere wrapped up in my bed sheets, but I don’t know where. Some how I am both refreshed and still tired, and feeling a sense of disappointment because I really wanted to be productive the next day. I can even remember a time where I had been getting up really early but going to bed fairly late for a week, that when it came Friday and I told myself I was just going to lay down for 5 minutes. I hadn’t realized I had fallen asleep till I woke up several hours later.

However, there is one type of sleep I forgot to mention. As we are all in the age of technology, it can become very tempting (and I often succumb) to go on my phone late at night before I go to bed. Extending the process my body takes to fall asleep. And I know if I want a proper sleep than I have to put it down. But really the only time I get to do what I want to do or catch up on my favourite shows or videos is the time between when I go to bed and when I am about to fall asleep. But that is no excuse. And yes I have a ‘night time mode’ setting on my phone but nothing beats a natural good night sleep. Nothing is worse for your body and your mind than not getting any sleep.

With lack of sleep can come anxiety, paranoia, exhaustion phases and just a lack of enthusiasm mixed with extreme bolts of energy, as far as my experience has shown me. And as students I know it can be hard to take time for ourselves, but we need it. We need to give our bodies and minds a break, so we cannot only be of use to others, but to ourselves as well. And I understand that everyone has their own schedule and their own way of doing things, but you should never underestimate a good night sleep.

Well wishes, L.R.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Feeling Stressed Becomes a Part of My Everyday Life

Now is about the time in the school year when all those essays and assignments I’ve put off for so long are finally coming up due, midterms feel like a weekly occurrence, and the dreadful period of exams is quickly approaching. I find myself struggling to cope with the amount of work that I need to complete, which causes me to become overwhelmed and frustrated. Like, how am I supposed to write a paper, study for the midterm I have in 2 days, finish my chemistry lab report AND eat 3 balanced meals a day?

I remember all of my high school teacher’s warning myself and my fellow classmates about how difficult university is; but I never would have imagined it being this hard. It’s during these times I find myself questioning why I even started in university and am consumed with negative thoughts like “ugh I might as well just drop out” or “I’m sure I wouldn’t feel this way if I never pursued a post-secondary education.” As tempting as it sounds to just quit when times get tough and the feeling of constant stress consumes my everyday life, it is so important to remember why I started this journey – to pursue something I love learning about and get the skills necessary to obtain a career in it.

Over the years I have come up with many strategies to help myself stay focused and positive during times of overloaded stress.

  1. Making A Study Guide: I find it so useful to plan out my week ahead of time in regards to what I want to accomplish each day, and when. For example, if I dedicate an hour each day to studying for a midterm, I should be prepared for it by the time it comes. I also make sure to allow myself at least an hour where I am free to do anything that gives my mind a break from school work, so that I am able to refocus when I return with more motivation to finish what I have started.
  1. Being Aware of Due Dates: I like to think of due dates as those little warning signs on the side mirrors of cars that say “Warning: Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.” Mainly because I have been in so many situations where I think “meh, I have soo much time to finish that assignment, I’ll just start it tomorrow” (meanwhile the due date IS tomorrow). That is why, at the beginning of each term I go through the syllabus and write down every due date for every lab, assignment, midterm etc… This helps me organize my time and prevents me from pulling all-nighters to meet deadlines.
  1. Scheduling Time for Family and Friends: this kind of goes hand-in-hand with making a study guide. Even if it is just an hour for coffee with a friend, or a 30 minute phone call to my grandma, I find that spending time with people that I care about puts me in the right frame of mind and gives me the motivation needed to complete my studies. It serves as an awesome break where I can go out, have fun and forget about all of the stress I’m under.

 

I find these small tasks can help me out so much when I’m feeling overwhelmed with school, or even just life in general. Do you have anything that you do to help you cope when things become overwhelming?

Multiple Choice Midterms/Exams

As midterms are here and finals are quickly creeping up, the stress of studying increases for everyone. I am a second year business student so a lot of my midterms are multiple choice, which I hate. For me multiple choice is the worst way for me to be tested as I always second guess myself and overthink the choices. Multiple choice tests always stress me out and I worry about them a lot. I find that there are lots of other students that I talk to that think multiple choice is difficult too, so I came up with some tips to answering multiple choice;

  • Read the question before you look at the answer.
  • Come up with the answer in your head before looking at the possible answers, this way the choices given on the test won’t throw you off or trick you.
  • Eliminate answers you know aren’t right.
  • Read all the choices before choosing your answer.
  • If there is no guessing penalty, always take an educated guess and select an answer.
  • Don’t keep on changing your answer, usually your first choice is the right one, unless you misread the question.
  • In “All of the above” and “None of the above” choices, if you are certain one of the statements is true don’t choose “None of the above” or one of the statements are false don’t choose “All of the above”.
  • In a question with an “All of the above” choice, if you see that at least two correct statements, then “All of the above” is probably the answer.
  • A positive choice is more likely to be true than a negative one.
  • Usually the correct answer is the choice with the most information.

These are the best tips for multiple choice questions. Most importantly, if you don’t do as good as you thought you would on the test don’t stress about it. Grades are important but they aren’t the only thing that matters. I used to get so worked up and stressed if I got a mark below a 70, but now I know that if I do get a low mark, I know that I need to study even harder for the next one. As long as you’re trying and working hard and studying, the grades you’re aiming for will come. Remember that if you are having problems with understanding concepts, we have a lot of great resources at our school that can help! PASS sessions, peer tutors, teacher office hours and more!

Study hard this midterm/exam season and remember these tips when writing multiple choice tests! Work hard and the outcome you’re aiming for will happen!