Getting Past the Fear of DBAs

This article is based on student work published in the FLVS student newspaper, News in a Click.

DBAIf discussion-based assessments make you nervous, these tips from FLVS students may help!

DBAs are verbal assessments and are often the most dreaded assignments for FLVS students. Instead of comfortably typing essays and worksheets on their laptops, students communicate with an instructor one-on-one over the phone.

But why is this so terrifying? Surely the verbal component of the DBA is not intimidating, especially when the assignments are approached by the instructor as a conversation instead of an oral exam.

TIP: Did you know that DBAs can be completed in a live lesson setting or over a video call? Ask your teacher about this option! Learn more in this post about mastering the DBA.

However, if you compare talking on the phone for twenty minutes to being the only student called on to answer random questions for 20 minutes in a classroom, you can see why students are reluctant to dial their instructors’ numbers.

Fortunately, garnering the courage to call an instructor is not an impossible feat.

First, tailor your view of the assignment and focus on the positive aspects: DBAs are meant to test your knowledge, not scare you. After all, your teacher values your education, not necessarily your ability to recall memorized facts. He or she will help you through certain questions – not make you struggle through them. Also, teachers use DBAs as a way of gauging your knowledge so they can help you “fill in the cracks” of your education. Don’t look at it as a terrifying phone call that is meant to make you feel incompetent; picture it as a learning experience!

Also, keep in mind that DBAs are not one-sided conversations. They aren’t the equivalent of a multiple choice test. This means that you can use this time to ask your teachers questions as well. If you are ever unsure about something, a few minutes on the phone can save you hours of recorded lessons. Use this one-on-one time to your advantage and ask as many questions about the material as you want of your instructor.

If you dread DBAs, never knowing what questions may be asked, and not knowing what to study for, here are our top pointers.

These tips should help you survive your DBA – and hopefully improve your score as well.

  • Look through your module and decide what topics are most important.
  • Review the entire module carefully.
  • Study the topics in the module which you struggled with most.
  • Brace yourself when your teacher answers the phone. Who wants to talk with butterflies in their stomach?
  • Make a mini study guide from your notes to study, and highlight the major themes of the module.
  • Never be afraid to ask your teacher questions beforehand – they want to see you succeed!

Remember that DBAs are no different from regular activities – in fact, after an entire module, DBAs simply act as a review. Hopefully you are now better prepared to tackle those pesky DBAs, and perhaps see them as a little less troublesome.

Remember, your personalized, quality learning experience is just a phone call away. Know your stuff and you’ll do great!

Post adapted from articles in the FLVS student newspaper, News in a Click
“The DBA Debacle” by students Dylan Sexton, Kelsey Gulick, Hannah Fishbough, and Emily Smith

“Getting Past the Fear of DBAs” by Samantha Morris

166 comments on “Getting Past the Fear of DBAs

  1. Mrs. Osborn

    This is a great article! I often tell my English III students that my job is to help them review for the final and move that information from their short-term to long-term memory. Without regular review, all that learning is lost! Thanks for helpful hints for our students to master the DBA. 🙂

        1. Brooke

          Me too in Spanish i did every assignment and i was left with the DBAS they happen to be very easy and your teacher or at least my teacher helps me when i mess up but i have different experiences with my other spanish teacher .

          1. Marissa DraegerFLVS

            Your teachers are there to help if you need them! Even if it’s a little awkward, they are willing to help you whenever you get stuck. Just let them know if you’re confused or unsure about a question – or even if you just plain can’t remember. We’ve all been there! 🙂

      1. Jassy

        My stomach starts to hurt when I get nervous one time a teacher called back bc everything I was saying cane from google an I almost died on the spot an I answered more questions got an A again but after that I decided to stop looking for answers before the test bc this is too much for my heart

    1. Natalie

      Not my world history teacher. When I couldn’t remember a question, he ended the DBA and told me to go study then call back 20 minutes later. He makes me even more nervous then I should be because he does that.

      1. Tessa

        That happened to me today! I wrote down all of the notes from the lesson and none of the notes helped with the DBA. So I looked like I didn’t know any of the stuff from the history lesson and I was so embarrassed!

        1. Dominic

          for real i have a dba in 15 minutes and i didnt pass the first time and Im having a panic attack. My doctors said that my panic attacks are bad because they raise my heart rate and I have congenital heart disease and it is not fun.

          1. Marissa DraegerFLVS

            You got this! Don’t hesitate to let your teacher know about any health concerns and discuss possible accommodations or alternate formats for doing the DBA.

      2. sue

        That happened to me too and a text to a parent saying I wasn’t ready when I had fifteen pages of notes, I missed one question. These are great tips but it doesn’t always work =(

    2. April

      This seems a bit like an unnecessary pain in the neck, but how would I know? I’m about to enter my first one ever

      1. Hi

        True I always turn in test until there’s no more to do bc I’m just stalling I have a fab in a hour an I have to study 60 questions but she only askes 3 so I’m just gonna look it up Thisbe time then study afterwards ☹️

  2. Aaliyah

    Very helpful article! I definitely hold off my DBA’s for as long as possible because I’m always so nervous! :3

  3. Jack

    I hate the idea of DBAs but I understand why they’re there. I still dread them though and I hate that I can’t actually see the person I’m speaking to.

      1. Marissa DraegerFLVS

        For those students who feel more comfortable seeing their teacher, using video in Elluminate (Blackboard Collaborate) like teachers do for Live Lessons or a similar tool should be possible! Talk to your instructor about other options!

  4. Master TT

    Although I am not scared of DBA’s I still think that most teachers take off points for the most smallest detail of the module

  5. Joy

    This article was a little helpful. I still do not understand the purpose of the DBA , if we take a review/practice test before and after the module . Why are we required or having to do the DBA? I feel as if its putting more pressure on the student(s) than there should actually be . I am one of those students who will procrastinate at something if i am not willing to do it , and the DBA/phone calls with my teacher is one of them.

    -Joy Rich-Bond

    1. Acelyne godshall

      I am so with you! I struggle with a anxiety anf being put on the spot all the information leaves my head. Then teachers think i do not know the information but i do! It is really terrifying and i shake and cant stop thinking about them if i know i have them that day:(

      1. Marissa DraegerFLVS

        If you (or other students) are still struggling with anxiety over DBAs, send your teacher a text or email to let them know. They can make accommodations or make it a point to give you the extra time or help you need. It’s natural to be a little nervous before any exam, so they understand!

  6. Skylar

    As someone who suffers from anxiety (with phone calls being the strongest trigger of it), DBA’s are, for lack of a better word, terrifying for me. I understand the purpose for these on-the-spot quizzes, but feel there should be an alternate assignment for those of us who are literally on the brink of tears whenever we have a DBA coming up and spend at least an hour going through all the worst possible outcomes of these calls as we frantically study an ENTIRE MODULE with very little direction. DBA study guides that we are provided with are usually practically useless, in my experience. Perhaps a live lesson session could serve as an alternative to DBA’s.
    However, I do understand that phone calls are a good way for teachers to connect with students on a better personal level. I actually do find the teachers to be kind, helpful, and enjoyable to speak with if there wasn’t the added stress of feeling unprepared and fearing that I studied all the wrong things. At the very least, it seems fair to narrow down the subjects that will be covered during the DBA, which some teachers do. When I know specifically what to be prepared for, it alleviates most of the nerves. I know the teachers are there to help, and I know they want us to succeed. But no matter how many times I tell myself that, and no matter how many successful DBA’s I have, they will always be my only source of stress and anxiety regarding online schooling.
    I know I am not the only one who feels this way, and I assume the kind staff of FLVS are aware of that, or they would not have taken the time to write this article in an attempt to calm and assist us. However, I am afraid that as long as DBA’s exist in their current form, students will always procrastinate them and be afraid of them. Sorry for being so long-winded, but this is something that has been on my mind for the past 4 years of taking online classes through FLVS. I thoroughly enjoy your courses; the assignments, for the most part, are intriguing and enjoyable, so please take the time to polish the DBA system to make it at the very least, more tolerable for students.

    1. Marissa DraegerFLVS

      Live lesson sessions are now an option! For any other students who prefer an alternative to talking on the phone, talk to your teacher. If you think you’d be more comfortable answering questions following another format, they can offer a different solution.

    2. Hailey L.

      DBA’s are just verbal tests that show your teacher what you know. Try your best and study hard. Take notes in your lessons. Think of it as a regular test, accept you speak in this one. This should be a little more relaxing than an actual test. You can always reschedule this one too, so you can have a second chance to look at notes. Write down passwords and which class they belong to. That will help. You can do it. Don’t overthink it. 🙂

    3. Jas

      Yess I thought it was gonna be easy but hard then when I heard we gotta do dba I thought nothing of it then after my first one i figures this might be a problem I was only studying the guided notes an she didn’t ask me anything about what I was studying I felt stupid embarrassed an all do after that I study everything I understand why they do this but I still get very nervous of having to do it over but my math teacher I love him seriously all I had to do was click on dba on his homepage then it said this is what I’m going to ask you when we do talk an that helped a lot so I finished his class like 2 months before everything else bc it was that easy if every teacher was like him I would die of happiness but no they only tell you what you should do right an how many points you’ll get nothing else I got a dba in like a hour an I’m so lost rn I can’t even reschedule she’s booked for the whole week an I got nothing to turn in ughhh this is my first dba with this new teacher an idk she seems nice but we’ll see in an hour ig wish me luck 😖

      1. Alexander

        yeah, i thought one of my teacher was going to be nice as well, but she docked my 8 points because I did not include enough information (I guess she wanted more than 4 sentences?) I wish I had teachers that told me what the DBA was going to contain, even just the main topics!

    4. Janie

      I agree. I also have an anxiety disorder. When I had to do my Chemistry dba I broke down in tears and I felt like all that I had learned, just drained straight out of my head. I have all A’s and B’s in my classes and I spend hours reviewing, studying, and completing my homework, yet when I have a dba, I get so nervous that all the info I learned just leaves my mind and makes it seem like I don’t understand the material. These dbas are causing me to push back all of my work because I get so anxious about doing them. FLVS, please consider making a more student-friendly alternative to dbas. They just cause unnecessary stress and anxiety that a good amount of students have transitioned to online school just to avoid.

  7. Nira

    One thing that helps me through the DBA’s is knowing that if I fail, it isn’t the end of the world. I can always reschedule and try again. It also makes me feel better when a teacher explains things to me instead of just lowering my grade. I’ve had a few teachers who ask a question, wait for an answer, and don’t really make conversation, so its nerve-wrecking and awkward. But I do appreciate the teachers who really try to help. 🙂

  8. Anonymous

    I literally had an asthma attack during my DBA I never feel as terrified as to DBA’S and a lot of times I keep hearing my teachers sigh through the phone as I am trying to answer a question and my confidence level drains all the way down. I complete all study guides and study very well yet they seem to always never ask what is in the study guide but rather their own almost like word question type of questions I hate it , we all hate it, take it out. My Geometry teacher has done Live Lesson DBA’s and I felt 1000 times better. PLEASE RE CONSIDER YOUR DBA SYSTEM FLVS .

    1. Marissa DraegerFLVS

      We’re glad your Geometry teacher was able to make things easier through live lessons. Maybe your other teachers would be willing to do something similar? Let them know you’re stressed and want to be as well-prepared as possible. Teachers really just want to make sure you know the material, but they may also be able to make accommodations so you aren’t as stressed.

    2. Jade

      My teacher tends to sigh a lot too and it also makes my confidence drain. This just makes me nervous and more stressed. My teacher also tries to rush me and barely gives me time to think about how to answer. She always goes, “Hello?? Hello????” And I have to continue to repeat that i’m still working and that makes me feel slow and incompetent.

      1. Julissa

        Mine does too and it is harder to concentrate when there are outside noises. I had to close my room door just so I could try to hear my instructor, but sometimes I don’t understand her. Then the next thing I know they will be like “Okay lets just skip to the next question.” And I like to take my time on stuff like this, especially talking to someone I physically do not know at all. But also, when I was about to ask them a question, they suddenly said “Okay go back and go through the module again, then call me back later.” And I was so confused and said “Okay” but she already hung up, so now I am frustrated and I feel as though I am not smart enough to know these questions and answer them correctly.

        1. Marissa DraegerFLVS

          We can see how this would be frustrating! If you’re in an environment that makes it hard to pay attention and you need to move to a new location (or maybe even reschedule your DBA), don’t be afraid to tell your teacher! It can be easy to get distracted and sometimes things happen. If you’re having a hard time hearing the teacher in general, tell them that too. Then the teacher can make sure that he or she is speaking clearly or that the phone’s mic is working properly. Once in awhile, teachers may just not realize that you didn’t get the time you needed or that you weren’t feeling supported. Don’t hesitate to drop them an email afterward to let them know you felt a little frustrated or that you got nervous or wanted more time to answer. Then next time they can be sure to give you the time you need. Communication can go a long way! If you’re feeling like your DBAs are always rushed or you’re frustrated with the way a specific teacher handles them, you can always reach out to the Principal/Instructional Leader to share this feedback. We hope this helps!

        2. Anonymous

          Look FLVS, you posted this on February 23, 2017. 2017!!!!!!! It is currently over 2 years later, and there has been no changes. I know that you intend to make your students happy, but there is 145 comments on here when I post this, and there is only 1 or 2 people out of at least 100 students, (some are FLVS texts) meaning at best, 2% of students like DBA’s. Now, I get why DBA’s are there, but when are you going to try to change it. Even if you have tried, well first off we need proof at the very least, and then even if then the state or something says you still need proof that it is us doing the work, you can make it so that instead of phone calls, you can do it in live lesson format without having to pry it out of your teacher that you can do live lesson format, and in live lesson format, you can take up to as much time as you need, and if the teacher feels that there don’t want to watch and wait on there student, they can leave until the student raises there virtual hand when THE STUDENT feels they are ready to have there best an