Test Anxiety

Do you recognize the following scenario? You and your child study test material thoroughly at home. Your child knows the material well, but fails the test over and over at school.

If this scenario sounds familiar to you, your child may suffer from test anxiety. Don’t worry; not all anxiety is harmful. Researchers divide anxiety into good anxiety (a drive to succeed) and bad anxiety (paralyzing panic).

Here are some tips to help your child suffering from test anxiety:

  • Think of anxiety as merely a bad habit that can be broken by finding test-taking strategies that work for your child. Everybody is different, so don’t expect big sister’s strategies to work for little brother.
  • Over-learn the material, but don’t cram right before the exam.
  • Ensure that your child gets a good night’s sleep, sufficient exercise, and a snack before the test, if possible. Some people say that fruits and veggies reduce stress.
  • Teach your child to watch the time carefully. If they’re drawing a blank, they can skip to the next item. They don’t need to panic if others finish first.
  • If your child is tensing up, he needs to relax, take deep breaths, and focus on the next step rather than panic.
  • After the test, make a note of strategies that were helpful or not helpful.
  • Most importantly, train your child to read the test directions carefully. I like to read the directions, choose an answer, then reread the directions. Another strategy is to read multiple choice answers first, then read the problem.
  • And of course, celebrate even the smallest successes with your child!

Everyone experiences some level of anxiety. If your child’s anxiety is interfering with performance, talk with the teacher about what can be done in the classroom to lower anxiety.

Happy testing,
Dr. Everett

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