How Can I Help My Students Reduce Their Test Anxiety
- Many students cram for tests the night before. Weve all done it, but you can encourage your students to not make it a habit. Instead, encourage them to study in small increments leading up to a test.
- Emphasize that one test does not define who the student is. Remind your students that a test is only a test. It does not define someones self-worth. Let your students know that doing poorly on a test does not represent the end of the world.
- Have your students stand up and shake out any tense muscles before a test. Have them close their eyes and breathe deeply. Let them know that everything will be okay.
- Encourage students to get enough sleep the night before. A good nights rest can make all the difference. Encourage your students to get to bed at a reasonable time the night before a test.
- Open your door to students. Let your students know that youre always there to listen.
Looking for more suggestions? Check out the S.M.I.L.E. method to further reduce students test anxiety.
Technique : Loosen Up And Relax
One approach to controlling test anxiety is to learn how to relax on cue. It’s fairly simple, but if you want to be able to do it on your next exam, you’ll have to practice it beforehand. Follow these steps:
- Get comfortable in your chair. Close your eyes or focus on a point in the distance.
- Begin breathing slowly and deeply.
- Focus your attention on your breath going in and out.
- Each time you breathe out, say “relax” to yourself.
- You may amplify the relaxation effect by tightening and then relaxing different muscle groups of your body, one group at a time. Start with your feet and then move up your body to the top of your head. Don’t forget to include your face.
Treatment And Medication For Test Anxiety
Some students will experience severe test anxiety. In severe test anxiety, symptoms are more intense and persistent. These students may experience panic attacks. They may continue to have poor test performances despite thorough studying.
Your doctor or your childs pediatrician can prescribe medications to help control severe anxiety. Medication can also reduce panic attacks.
Your doctor may refer you to a counselor to help with stress management. A counselor can help you learn methods for coping with anxiety. A counselor can also help you cope with any self-doubt or low self-esteem that could be causing the performance anxiety.
If you or your child has severe test anxiety, you may get approval for them to receive special accommodations. Anxiety disorders are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This includes test anxiety. Once you file the required paperwork, you or your child can take exams in a separate, quiet room, and you may be given additional time to complete the test.
Why Does It Matter Anyway
Assessments are important. Theyre used to measure student growth and proficiency. They help identify whats working and what needs to be adjusted. However, test anxiety can muddy assessment results, painting an inaccurate portrait of performance. If a student does poorly on a test but knows the content, the results dont accurately reflect that a curriculum is working or that the student is growing. By acknowledging test anxiety and using techniques to minimize its effects, we can do our best to minimize the chance of that happening.
Test Taking Anxiety: How To Take Control Of It
Dan had to pass the state US History exam to graduate in a few weeks. During the test, he swayed in his seat, mumbled to himself, sweated, and sighed. A lot.
I honestly did not know if he would get through the exam. I had taught Dan for two years and knew his strengths and weaknesses well. And tests were a weakness. I have never seen a kid struggle more with a test than Dan that day. And given the high stakes he faced, is it any wonder?
Test anxiety is real, yall. Each school year, a number of my students struggled with tests. Test anxiety comes in many forms. It can show up as a headache, sweaty palms, hyperventilation, negative thoughts, or going blank.
While many kids can work through the physical symptoms, the emotional and cognitive symptoms are much more difficult. Anxiety acts as static and interferes with the brains ability to recall information. Kids who studied and knew the topic blew the exam, over and over again.
However, you can lessen or overcome that anxiety, improving your outlook and grades. Lets dig into some of the issues contributing to test anxiety and some techniques to control that anxiety.
Read Also: How To Deal With Teenage Anxiety
Diet Influences Brain Function
Nutrition is connected to brain function. When you provide your brain with essential nutrients, you can lower the chance of anxiety.
Multiple studies suggest that a diet high in saturated fats and refined sugars can increase depression and anxiety symptoms.
Eating well-balanced meals, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding caffeine can help you manage and prevent test anxiety.
Tips To Overcome Test Anxiety
If youre a student , youve felt nervous before a big exam. A mild case of the nerves can actually be useful, giving you an adrenaline boost that will help you perform at your best. However, if your pre-test stress becomes so extreme that it impedes your performance, you are probably experiencing test anxiety. Read on to learn more about how to overcome test anxiety.
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Here Are Some Successful Strategies For Test Anxiety
We all experience some level of anxiety before a test. A little nervousness can actually help motivate us to perform our best. Too much anxiety can become a problem if it interferes with your performance on tests. Some strategies for dealing with test anxiety:
Before the test, take good care of yourself:
- Be prepared. Study the material in advance do not leave cramming for the day before your test. Do not do a last minute review.
- Get plenty of sleep, it is hard to function at your best when overtired
- Avoid any use of drugs and alcohol, they can interfere with your mental ability.
- Exercise may increase your alertness and sharpen your mind.
- Have a moderate breakfast, fresh fruits and vegetables help reduce stress avoid caffeine, sugar and junk foods.
- Allow yourself plenty of time arrive at the test location early.
- Choose a seat where you will not be easily distracted.
- Use abdominal breathing to help reduce anxiety. Place one hand on your abdomen, right beneath your rib cage. Inhale through your nose and feel your abdomen fill like a balloon…count to three on your inhalation and then slowly exhale counting to four, feeling your abdomen contracting with the exhalation.
- Do a reality check, how important is this exam in the grand scheme of things? Put it in perspective.
- Use positive affirmations, say a phrase to help keep things in perspective, “I’ve done this before, I can do it again.” or “I have all the knowledge I need to get this done.”
Therapy And Medications Can Also Help
If you need extra support, make an appointment with your school counselor or primary care physician.
Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your physician may also recommend cognitive-behavioral therapy , anti-anxiety medications, or a combination of both. CBT focuses on helping people change both the behaviors and underlying thoughts that contribute to unwanted behaviors or feelings.
Read Also: How To Stop Health Anxiety
Overview Of Test Taking And Anxiety
Test anxiety is a feeling of agitation and distress associated with test taking, which impacts your ability to study or perform on the test. Some anxiety is natural and helps to keep you mentally and physically alert, but too much may cause physical distress, emotional upset, and concentration difficulties.
The Effects and Causes of Test Anxiety
Physiological reactions to anxiety may include rapid heartbeat, muscle tension, queasiness, dry mouth, or perspiration. Behavioral reactions may include and inability to act, make decisions, express yourself, or to deal with everyday situations. Psychological reactions may include feelings of apprehension, uneasiness, upset, and self-doubt.
Ways To Overcome Test Anxiety
Has this ever happened to you? Youve been studying hard for your chemistry midterm, but when you walk into your exam, your mind goes blank. As you sit down to start your test, you notice your sweaty palms and a pit in your stomach.
If these classic signs of test anxiety sound familiar, your grades and test scores may not reflect your true abilities. Learn ways to manage test anxiety before and during a stressful test.
Saying No To Cognitive Distortions
Cognitive distortions are patterns of thinking that can cause you to see yourself and others more negatively. Identifying these distortions may help you manage test anxiety.
Negative self-talk and performance anxiety are often connected to distorted thoughts.
Research suggests you can replace negative self-talk with positive statements once you acknowledge the negative ways you speak to yourself. Self encouragement and support can lift your mood, lessen anxiety, and boost confidence in your test-taking abilities.
Here are some examples of self-talk replacements:
- Instead of I cant do this, consider I can do this.
- Instead of Im not good enough, you could say Im am doing my best.
- Instead of Im going to fail, consider I am prepared.
Identifying and reassessing other thoughts, such as catastrophizing, may help you avoid jumping to the worst possible conclusion every time you take a test.
This way, you can focus on the evidence versus the catastrophizing thought .
Who’s Likely To Have Test Anxiety
People who worry a lot or who are perfectionists are more likely to have trouble with test anxiety. People with these traits sometimes find it hard to accept mistakes they might make or to get anything less than a perfect score. In this way, even without meaning to, they might really pressure themselves. Test anxiety is bound to thrive in a situation like this.
Students who aren’t prepared for tests but who care about doing well are also likely to have test anxiety. If you know you’re not prepared, it’s a no-brainer to realize that you’ll be worried about doing poorly. People can feel unprepared for tests for several reasons: They may not have studied enough, they may find the material difficult, or perhaps they feel tired because didn’t get enough sleep the night before.
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How Prevalent Is Test Anxiety
Anxiety disorders tend to be quite common. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 19.1 % of U.S. adult had some type of anxiety disorder within the past year. An estimated 31.1% of all U.S. adults will experience at least one anxiety disorder at some point during their lives. One study found that anywhere from 10% to 40% of school-age students experience test anxiety.
What Can You Do About Test Anxiety
The mind is a powerful tool that may work either for you or against you. Test anxiety can be controlled with an attitude adjustment. Visualizing success can take you a long way. If you tell yourself you can’t succeed, then you won’t. If you tell yourself you can succeed and do well, you will. Start by preparing before, during, and after an exam.
Recommended Reading: Will There Ever Be A Cure For Anxiety
How Do You Know If You Have Test Anxiety
Test anxiety has many symptoms which include loss of sleep or appetite, sweaty palms, food cravings, and an inability to concentrate to name a few. Below are examples select the statements that you identify with most. If you select more than five symptoms you may experience test anxiety. Most people experience these symptoms and they are not harmful however, if you experience ten or more you may be suffering from severe test anxiety.
__ I do not sleep well the night before a test.__ I am always afraid that I will run out of time.__ I get sick if I eat anything before a test.__ I check the time constantly noises bother me.__ I am irritable and hard to be around before a test.__ I get easily frustrated during the test.__ I see the test as a measure of my worth as a student.__ I have a negative attitude about testing.__ I blank out during the test and can’t recall information.__ I think about not taking the test.__ I worry when others are still testing and I am finished.__ I always average my grades before the test.__ I worry when others finish and I am still testing.__ My body sweats, heart pounds feel nauseous.
How Does Test Anxiety Affect You
Anxiety may cause you to have a physiological, behavioral, or even a psychological effect.
- Physiological rapid heartbeat, knot in stomach, headache, tension, profuse perspiration.
- Behavioral indecisive about an answer, going blank, inability to organize your thoughts.
- Psychological feelings of nervousness, restlessness, or continual doubt.
Also Check: Does Anxiety Make You Nauseous
Tips To Help Test Anxiety
1. Start preparing early. Its important that you start preparing early for your test rather than waiting until the last minute and cramming information. Start studying a week or two before the test, and study in smaller blocks each day.
2. Create a study plan. Having a study plan is important for success on a test. A study plan will allow you to create blocks of time to study each day, as well as lay out exactly what youre going to study. Create a study plan from the day you start studying and follow through until the day before the test.
3. Learn how to study While you may feel like you have this down, you can always get more tips on how to effectively study. Your school may offer study skill classes or other resources that can help you learn effective study skills so that you can feel confident and pass that test.
4. Keep a positive attitude. Keep in mind that your self-worth does not rely on the outcome of a test. Keep a positive attitude and remind yourself that you can do well on the test. Believing in yourself and keeping a positive attitude while you study and take the test can help you go a long way!
5. Read carefully. This is important with every test, whether you have test anxiety or not. Make sure to read the instructions carefully before you begin the test and read each and every question and answer before choosing an answer. If you dont read everything carefully, you could miss out on an important detail that can help you choose the correct answer.