Some students get so nervous before a test, they do poorly even if they know the material. Sian Beilock is a psychology professor at the University of Chicago in Illinois. She has studied these highly anxious test-takers. She says students might even start worrying about whether this exam is going to prevent them from getting into the college they want. She says when students worry, they use up attention and memory resources that could be used on the test.Professor Beilock and another researcher, Gerardo Ramirez, have developed a possible solution. Just before an exam, highly anxious test-takers spend ten minutes writing about their worries about the test. She said when students write about their worries on paper, they think about the worst that could happen. They might realize it is not as bad as they thought it was. And writing about it prevents these thoughts from popping up when they are taking the test. The researchers tested the idea on a group of twenty anxious college students. They gave them two short math tests. After the first one, they asked the students to either sit quietly or write about their feelings about the upcoming second test.The researchers added to the pressure. They told the students that those who did well on the second test would get money. They also told them that their performance would affect other students as part of a team effort.Professor Beilock says those who sat quietly scored an average of twelve percent worse on the second test. But the students who had written about their fears improved their performance by an average of five percent. Next, the researchers used younger students in a biology class. They told them before final exams either to write about their feelings or to think about things unrelated to the test. Professor Beilock says highly anxious students who did the writing got an average grade of B+, compared to a B- for those who did not. But what if students do not have a chance to write about their fears immediately before an exam or presentation? Professor Beilock says students can try it themselves at home or in the library and still improve their performance.The researchers wrote about their findings in the journal Science.For VOA Special English I’m Alex Villarreal.