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How to Reduce Test Anxiety


An upcoming test can cause some students a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety.  When a student is anxious they may not perform to the best of their ability on a test.  High test anxiety affects up to 20% of students. Many students report tests and schoolwork stresses them more than anything else in their lives.  Approximately 18% of students report moderate to high test anxiety, according to the American Test Anxieties Association.  Students with high anxiety often perform 12 percentage points below their low anxiety peers due to stress from test taking.  They often freeze or blank out which handicaps them from performing well.

Children as early as 1st and 2nd grade can experience test anxiety.  The stress may manifest as a stomach ache, frequent bathroom trips from the classroom, or difficulty sleeping.

Some ideas to help your child reduce test anxiety include the following:

1)  Have your child write about their feelings right before the test.  It also helps to write about something that matters to them.  This will help them express their emotions and get some stress out.

2)  Engage in some relaxation techniques before the test, such as breathing exercises or stretching.

3)  Be well prepared for the test.  Study ahead of time over the week and review the material nightly.  Don’t try to learn everything the night before.

4)  Make flash cards.  Writing things down can help retain information.

5)  Get a good night’s sleep and eat a nutritious breakfast.

6)  Show up on time to class and prepared with whatever materials are needed.

7)  Exercise the day before a test.  Exercising is a great stress reducer.

8)  Chew gum during the test, if allowed.  It helps reduce stress.

9)  Read the directions on the test carefully and slowly before beginning.

10)  Go at your own pace.  Don’t worry about how fast other kids finish the test.  Skim the whole test over at first so you know how much time you need.

11)  Answer the easy questions first to build your confidence and come back to more difficult ones.  Also, focus on the questions with the most points.

12)  Write down the difficult formulas and definitions in the margins or on note paper so you won’t forget them.

13)  Read each question carefully and stay focused.

14)  Use all the test time.  If you finish early, go over your test and reread your answers.

Parents:  It is important to let your child know that no matter how well they do on a test, you will support them and help them to do better next time.  Many children get extremely stressed about test taking because they are afraid to fail and let their parents down.  After the test is over, encourage them to do something that makes them happy and celebrate the test is finished.



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