As testing is approaching, a lot of your kids may be feeling extra nervous. While this is normal, test anxiety may be debilitating for some students. Racing thoughts, difficulty concentrating, or feelings of dread can also combine with physical symptoms like a fast heartbeat, headache, or nausea. These symptoms of test anxiety can cause your kids’ test scores or grades to not truly reflect their abilities. Here are a few tips on how to help your child manage test anxiety before and during a test.
1. Be Prepared
If your child feels prepared before walking into a test, they’ll immediately feel more confident. To help your child feel more prepared, help them practice reviewing material or making sure they have all the supplies they need to be successful. This can also include getting to school or class early so they have time to relax.
2. Get A Good Night's Sleep
Staying up late cramming for the test or watching TV will only exacerbate those anxious feelings. It’s important that your child gets 8-10 hours of sleep regularly, but especially the night before a big test.
3. Eat Breakfast
Eating a nutritious breakfast will help your child give them the energy they need to stay focused during the test. Also, straying away from caffeine or sugar will help reduce any anxious feelings your child may have.
4. Establish Study Strategies
Help your child with reorganizing the material in a way that allows them to outline the main ideas and think about the themes that unite them. Helping kids think about what they've been learning in a different way from how it was presented in class will give them a better understanding of the material.
5. Break Things Up
If your child tends to feel panicked during a test, suggest that they look for a way to change their focus. If they get stumped on a specific question, they can skip to the last question and come back. Breaking up the routine can be a helpful way to get things done.
6. Practice Calming Techniques
Deep breathing can slow down a fast-beating heart or racing mind. The very act of concentrating on breathing can help alter those anxious feelings.
7. Read Each Question Carefully
Sometimes when kids are feeling anxious, they also feel rushed, and it becomes difficult to understand what’s being asked. Reading each question and the answers slowly and carefully will help your child have a better understanding of what’s expected.
8. Don’t Pay Attention to What Others Are Doing
When your child is feeling anxious, it can be easy for them to get distracted by their classmates. They may be filled with intrusive thoughts like, “Why is everyone moving faster than me?” or “What do they know that I don’t?” Encourage your child to focus on themself, go at their own pace, and forget about the other students in the classroom.
9. Manage Time Carefully
When preparing to take a big test, help your child learn to manage their time carefully. Students should use the allotted time effectively by answering the questions they know first - which will help boost their confidence - and allow for some time at the end to review the test and make sure every question is answered.
10. Analyze Your Performance
It may take a while to develop good test taking strategies. Consider each test as a practice session that will allow your child to analyze their performance. Which test strategies are working and which ones aren’t? Is your child struggling more with a specific type of question, like multiple choice or essay questions? Understanding what is giving your child a hard time when it comes to test taking will allow them to work on those strategies more thoroughly.
To learn more about test anxiety and test taking strategies go to: https://childmind.org/article/tips-for-beating-test-anxiety