DR. WALLACE: I'm 19 and attending a community college. I will be transferring to a four-year university next fall. The only thing standing in my way is a certain math class. I am currently enrolled in this class and have no problems with completing the required homework. However, when it comes to taking a test, I completely "choke." I was wondering if you would be kind enough to help me. — Choke Pokie, Orange, California
CHOKIE POKIE: "Choking" on a test is a common problem, unfortunately. So first of all, you are not alone in dealing with this situation. Some students, no matter how well they know the material, put so much psychological pressure on themselves that they can't readily access this knowledge at test time.
I suggest that you make an appointment with your math instructor to discuss what can be done to help you overcome this stressful situation. Knowing the teacher is on your side — and not out to get you — may ease your fears and let you perform up to capacity on a test. Believe me, your teacher has as much interest in your success as you do.
One other suggestion is to breathe slowly and deeply while you are studying the material in the days leading up to the test. Repeat silently to yourself: "I'm in control. I've got this." Do this several times an hour while you are studying. This, coupled with your teacher's support, may help you relax and perform better and more comfortably at test time. When you open your test on the big day, take a deep, relaxing breath and think to yourself: "I'm in control! I've got this!" Contact me again after you take your next math test and let me know how you did.
THEY PLAY FOR MONEY
DR. WALLACE: My brother and several of his friends watch championship poker every evening. I think they're addicted to that junk. Now, they have formed a poker club and have about five guys who play poker every Saturday in our basement, and they play for money.
I think this is despicable. Gambling is stupid and a waste of time. I also think that it can be addictive. When I tell this to my brother, he tells me that playing poker is better than doing drugs, drinking booze or robbing banks. Help! I am really frustrated because I don't like to see my bro wasting his time. — Unimpressed, Hammond, Indiana
UNIMPRESSED: Playing poker is not as bad as doing drugs, drinking booze or robbing banks, but not as good as reading a book, working at a part-time job, helping out a retirement home, exercising, doing yard work or playing sports. And indeed, gambling can become addictive in some cases.
It's obvious that your parents aren't concerned about this, as the poker party is in their house. There are times that a teen has more sense than parents. In your case, I'd say this is one of those times. I agree with your take here.
IS MILK A PERFECT FOOD?
DR. WALLACE: Please settle this "friendly" family dispute. My older brother drinks about a half-gallon of milk every day. He only drinks whole milk and will not drink 2 percent or skim milk. I keep telling him that he would be better off not drinking whole milk, but he says that his football coach told the team that whole milk is nature's best food. My listens to his coach. I, however, know that his coach is mistaken. Please "enlighten" him and his players. — Ginger, El Paso, Texas
GINGER: It's true that milk is the "perfect" food! It's chock-full of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, including calcium. But whole milk has a high fat content, as you correctly pointed out. So, to set the record straight, skim milk is actually nature's "perfect" food. It contains all that "good stuff," but without any fat!
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.