Test season is here and with it comes test anxiety. While it’s completely normal (and sometimes even beneficial) to be a bit nervous before a test, some kids find test anxiety completely debilitating.
If your child has been studying hard and is prepared, but walks into his exam and has his mind goes blank, this is a classic sign of test anxiety. Whether it’s the ACT, AP Exam or an important final, test anxiety has the power to derail weeks and months of hard work.
If your child’s test anxiety is severe, and has symptoms of a panic attack, I recommend talking to a doctor and the teacher. But for the majority of us, following these ten tips will help kids cope beautifully with their test anxiety.
Before the Test
- Be prepared. Yes, this seems obvious, but it bears repeating. The more your child feels they have studied adequately, the more confident they will feel heading in. Need help reviewing tough concepts? You’re not alone! The experts at Tutor.com can provide that extra boost .
- Get a good night’s sleep. Cramming is never the answer. Hopefully your son or daughter has been using the “study a little, more often” method which has been proven to be more effective in retaining information. Regardless, pulling an all-nighter will not solve the problem. Having adequate rest is likely to be more beneficial than rereading text until the wee hours.
- Fuel up with a nutritious breakfast before the test and pack smart snacks for ongoing energy. Brain food indeed! Check out our suggestions for great breakfasts and snacks that offer a steady stream of nutrients, rather than a sugar high followed by a crash.
- Get to class – or the testing site – early. Feeling rushed will only amp up the anxiety. Help your child remember to pack necessary items the night before and set the alarm clock so they can get out the door on time.
- Have a positive mental attitude. Here are two of my favorite ways for kids to stay positive on test day: bring a relaxing mental picture with you like your favorite beach and “visit” there right before the test and have a morale boosting mantra such as “I can do this”, “I worked hard and deserve this” say it to yourself before the test begins.
During the Test
- Read directions carefully and thoroughly read all answers before making a choice or starting the essay. There is nothing worse than putting time into a question and realizing you are not solving for x, or the essay is off target. Slowing down can help your child focus and remain calm.
- Just start. After they’ve read the directions, encourage them to get going since that blank paper can maximize anxiety. Maybe start with an outline for an essay answer, or find some questions they know to build confidence and momentum. Progress breeds progress. They can always go back and change things later if needed, but a few quick answers can get the ball rolling.
- Don’t pay attention to what other people are doing. Everyone else is scribbling away? Ack! What do they know that you don’t? It doesn’t matter. Remind your child to pay attention to her own test and pace.
- Watch the time. Realizing that time is almost up and there is a lot left can create anxiety that makes it hard to do anything useful in those final minutes. If your son has scoped out the whole test before starting and mentally allocated a certain amount of time to each section, that can help keep them on pace. If there’s time to recheck, even better.
10. Focus on calm breathing and positive thoughts. Deep breathing can indeed slow down a beating heart or a racing mind so have them practice these techniques. The very act of concentrating on breathing and thinking can biometrically alter those anxious feelings.
Sometimes just remembering that text anxiety is a normal part of school can help make it easier to handle. We’d love to hear your child’s suggestions for mitigating test anxiety. And, good luck to everyone who is in the thick of testing season!