Are There Test Anxiety Strategies That Can Help?
Yes! There are many test anxiety strategies on how to deal with test anxiety. First, I’m going to review the causes, the symptoms, and who gets it before I discuss what test anxiety strategies to use for managing test anxiety.
What is Test Anxiety?
Test anxiety is a feeling someone gets before or during test taking. It is a type of performance anxiety, that occurs when someone is typically concerned about getting a good outcome. The result is physical and psychological symptoms that occur before or during tests. Test anxiety can negatively affect learning and performance. The good news is there are test anxiety strategies on how to deal with it.
What Causes Test Anxiety?
It is caused by fear of failure, poor test preparation and/or problematic test taking history. There is pressure to perform at your best level. This can motivate the test taker. However, it may also create fear of failure. Good test preparation is important for a good test result. It is also important to prevent test anxiety. A calm test taker tends to know they’ve studied to the best of their ability. They also tend to have studied over time, and not in just a few days or at the last-minute. If the test taker has had a history of negative experiences with test or poor grades on test, this can also cause anxiety on future tests.
What Are Symptoms of Test Anxiety?
Symptoms are physical, emotional, and/or behavioral. They range from mild or very intense.
The physical symptoms may include: headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fast heart rate, fast breathing rate, feeling like you can’t breathe. If the anxiety is severe enough, a panic attack may occur. When someone is having a panic attack, it is generally very debilitating. A panic attack can make a person feel paralyzed internally or externally, like they can’t move, can’t talk, & they may feel like they’re having a heart attack.
The emotional symptoms may include crying, feeling fear, feeling sadness, and helpless.
The behavioral symptoms may include negative self talk, inability to think clearly, and inability to function.
Who Gets Test Taking Anxiety?
- Worriers – If your child has a tendency to worry, he/she is more likely to suffer from test anxiety. Even if your child is prepared, your child’s worrying could cause test taking anxiety.
- Perfectionists – If your child aims for self perfection, then he/she is more likely to suffer from test anxiety. Even if your child does wll in school, the very thought of getting questions wrong, or getting less than an A, leads the perfectionist to have test taking anxiety.
- Unprepared People – If your child has not learned the subject matter, not practiced with classwork/homework, and/or studied the material, then he/she is more likely to suffer from test anxiety.
How To Manage or Prevent Test Anxiety ?
There are many ways to help your child manage, prevent, and/or minimize test anxiety.
Talk About It
- Ask your child what’s making your child feel nervous.
- Talking about their feelings make children have less anxiety. Stay calm too as this helps your child stay calm as well
- Accept mistakes
- This can be a part of you child’s life lessons. Teaching your child to handle things when the outcome is not what they expected will help them in life, not just in test taking.
- Boost your child’s confidence.
- Tell them how wonderful they are. Ask them to give themselves compliments. What do they like about themselves? About their great brains?
- Always offer support.
- Remind your child that you are always there. Sometimes, they don’t want a solution. Sometimes being a listener is all he/she needs.
Review Studying Habits & Test Prep
- Have your child practice on sample tests.
- Having experience with what the test will feel like will prevent anxiety.
- Focus on test preparation.
- Establish a routine for studying and preparing for the upcoming test is very helpful. Studying a little bit at a time, over a set time period. It is usually better than craming it in the day before the test. It also also for better retention of the facts.
- Learn your child’s best study habits.
- When does he/she study best? Is it morning, afternoon, or night?
- Does he/she need breaks?
- Could hunger be slowing his/her learning/studying? Consider snack breaks in between studying.
- Does he/she need to do something physical or move around in between studying.
- Review test taking strategies.
- Teach your child what to do if they are stuck on a test question. If they can’t answer one, then teach them to mark the question and move on. They can get back to it later.
- Help your child feel their best the day of an exam
- Review all methods and test after the test is complete.
- What were your child’s strengths on the test? Where are their weaknesses? How could he/she have improved test prep? What did he/she do that was just right? What can he/she do again the next time? Or do differently? Ask them to evaluate this with you.
Sleep & Screen Time
- Find your child’s best number of sleep hours.
- Does your child need eight (8) hours a night? Ten (10)? Twelve (12)? Try to make sure they get their best sleep before tests.
- Monitor your child’s screen time.
- If your child has too much screen time, especially at night, or the days or week before an important test can do more harm than good.
Relaxation, Guided Meditation & Affirmations
- Practice relaxation techniques.
- Deep breathing
- Taking a bath
- Listening to relaxing music
- Create art. Drawing and/or coloring is fun and relaxing.
- Play a board game that’s fun with the family the day before the exam.
- Watch a funny movie with your child. Sometimes, laughter is the best medicine.
- Use Guided Meditation.
- I recommend and use, I Am Peace, by Susan Verde. This is a wonderful book. It is geared for children. I think it’s a great book for any age. The last page has a Guided Meditation. I’ve read this out loud to my son while he is lying down with his eyes closed. I must say that both he and I are relaxed at the end, every time.
- The Balloon
- Follow the Leader
- Use Affirmations