With state tests and Regents exams just around the
corner, students may need some helpful ways to overcome test anxiety.
Any test that requires students to show their best
work is likely to produce some jitters. However, when those jitters
produce extreme preoccupation with failure, sleeplessness, trembling
hands, stomach pains or feeling faint, your child is likely experiencing
According to the U.S. Department of Education, students who suffer from
test anxiety tend to worry about success in school and may be extremely
self-critical. Instead of feeling challenged by the prospect of success,
they become afraid of failure. This makes them anxious about tests and
their own abilities. Simply encouraging them to stop worrying usually
doesn’t help ease their concerns. If you find your child tends to
experience anxiety prior to tests, here are some things you might try:
Encourage your child to study over a period of
time rather than "cram" the night before an exam. This becomes
particularly important with end-of-the-year tests, many of which are
reflective of the content that has been taught throughout the year.
Test preparation should be more like a review than a stressful attempt
to learn a year’s worth of curriculum in one night.
Try to keep your talk about tests casual (while
driving in the car or preparing dinner, ask how your child feels about
an upcoming test). Children are more likely to open up about fears
or anxiety in less confrontational situations rather than when
Meet with teachers or a guidance counselor to
discuss your child’s progress. They can suggest activities to do
at home to help prepare for tests and improve your child’s
understanding of schoolwork.
Stay well informed about your child’s tests.
Know how different test results are used and
how they will affect your child’s placement in school. Many
content area tests and projects count for a percentage of the year’s
grade and can determine whether a student passes or fails a subject
area. Others, like the state tests, are designed to show how well
students have learned information in different content areas
throughout their school years. Students who score below a certain
level will not be retained because of their grade. Scores from these
tests are used by teachers to determine whether students will need
remedial help to prepare for the more challenging content in later
Don’t dismiss the test as unimportant. At the
same time, let your child know that it’s his or her effort and not the
final score that really counts.
To ensure children are prepared for their
testing experience, it is suggested that they…
Get a good night’s sleep.
Eat a healthy breakfast.
Are on time or a little early for the exam.
Bring all necessary materials (pen, pencil,
Avoid stressful situations (such as arguments)
prior to testing.
During the test, encourage your child to:
Ask questions of the person administering the test
if unsure what is being asked.
Answer questions completely and in detail.
Check to be sure no questions have been skipped.
Avoid becoming distracted by other test takers.
Silently repeat calming phrases such as "This is
only a test," "I don’t have to be perfect," or "I can be nervous
later, but now I have to concentrate on the test."
Take a few deep breaths, get up to get a drink or
to sharpen a pencil, shift seating position or stand to stretch.
Don’t worry about who finishes first or last.
Go back and proof answers again if finished early,
but don’t change anything unless sure of the change. Studies show the
first answer is usually the right one.