Reduce Test Anxiety and Build Confidence with Enrichment and Practice
While it’s not possible to remove all testing from your child’s academic career, it is possible to help them develop strategies to mitigate test anxiety.
Many things can contribute to test anxiety:
- Lack of preparation
- Poor performance on previous exams
- Being overly concerned with grades
- Fear of parental disapproval
Luckily, with the right preparation and mindfulness, you can help your child combat their test anxiety. Read on to learn easy test-prep strategies and how Time4Learning can be your preparation partner!
General Strategies to Reduce Test Anxiety
The good news is that there are things you can teach and practice with your child or teen at home that may help them overcome their fears about taking tests. These strategies address some of the physical, emotional, and cognitive worries related to test-taking.
Supporting Rest and Relaxation
- Ensure your child is getting enough sleep and recovery. Adequate rest can be a powerful shield against various anxieties.
- Teach breathing exercises that your child can use during test time. Slow breathing triggers a natural relaxation response in the body.
- Create a pretest routine. Pay attention to what works every time they prepare for tests. Replicating this each time will help beat exam anxiety.
Emotional Support and Mindset
- Talk it out. Just the act of speaking their anxiety aloud can be enough to help some kids work through their misgivings. Listen to your child’s fears without judgment and without telling them how they should feel.
- Model positive thinking. Let your child see you regularly express positive thoughts about upcoming stressors in your own life.
- Make sure your child understands that the goal is to do their best, not have a perfect test score.
Effective Study Strategies
- Make a proactive study schedule. Studying steadily and continuously will allow students to identify areas they have trouble with early on. They will have more time to ask questions, practice, and understand, which will improve their confidence and help reduce their test-taking anxiety.
- Study in an environment similar to the test. For example, if your child will be taking a test in a large classroom with other students, have him or her study at a library so that they can get accustomed to the sights and sounds of that environment.
Test Anxiety in Elementary Students
The chief thing you can do to help your elementary student is to not put too much emphasis on test scores. Explain to your child that schools use tests as a way to get a picture of how much students are learning. Tests aren’t the final goal–learning is!
Elementary students, in particular, often get anxious about math tests. Math anxiety can affect a child’s enjoyment of math, as well as their confidence about math performance. At this grade level, games are a powerful antidote to apprehension about math.
Time4MathFacts is a fun, motivational, and stress-free environment for mastering elementary arithmetic – addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Students who achieve a certain level of automaticity with math facts (the ability to pull math facts from their memory without conscious effort or attention) can significantly reduce their feelings of math anxiety.
Test Anxiety in Middle School Students
Because your middle schooler may not feel comfortable sharing their worries about testing, it’s important to watch for non-verbal signs of test anxiety at this age. Watch for any of these warning signs on test days:
- Complaints of head pain or stomach ache
- Irritability and moodiness
- Expressions of feeling like a failure
- Trouble concentrating
- Irrational explanations for not wanting to attend school
If you observe any of these signals in your pre-teen, start a conversation with them right away. Even naming their worries out loud can go a long way toward reducing their apprehension. As you talk with them about how to beat exam anxiety, emphasize the importance of preparation. Explain to your child that there are strategies and tools that can help them prepare for tests.
To review and build essential skills in language arts and math, try a targeted program like CourseBridge’s middle school courses. CourseBridge courses are short courses tailored with the essential concept your student needs to stay on track.
Test Anxiety in High School Students
High school is a period of intense focus on testing. In addition to the tests in their academic subjects, many high schoolers will take the PSAT, SAT, or ACT during their high school career. Some states even require students to receive minimum scores on standardized tests to qualify for graduation. There is a lot of pressure on high schoolers related to testing.
Parents can be a supportive partner during this academic period. In addition to ensuring your teen is maintaining a healthy lifestyle (getting enough sleep and eating well), you can share test-taking strategies that reduce anxiety such as:
- Learning how to study efficiently and establish a study routine. We recommend taking an academic success course to help them learn how to learn – not just memorize – concepts. Those strategies can apply beyond their high school coursework, setting them up for success in college, career education, and personal interests.
- Learning how to replace “cramming” with consistent studying over time.
- Focusing on positive self-talk before and during exams.
- Find out what the exam is meant to test on, and what kind of formats to expect.
- Understanding what accommodations are available for tests and taking advantage of them if needed.
- Reminding them that test outcomes are not a sign of “success” or “failure” but rather a tool to point out areas where improvement is needed
To review and build essential skills in language arts and math, try a targeted program like CourseBridge’s high school courses. Choose from dialed-in, short courses in math and language arts to help your high schooler stay on track and review key concepts. They can also choose from the middle school courses for more foundational strengthening.
Time4Learning can be another supportive partner to help your K-12 student feel prepared and confident. We offer an engaging online curriculum that presents standards-based exercises in math, science, language arts, social studies, and even electives. Parents can select lessons and activities that students need additional help with or that align with what they are currently studying in school. We want to help students grow and improve their foundations, so Time4Learning allows and encourages them to review lessons and retake quizzes when they feel uncertain. By understanding key concepts, they’ll feel more confident and be better prepared for traditional and standardized tests. It’s like having a private tutor that they can access anytime and anywhere!
As with most challenges in life, preparation is key and can be made easy with the right partner by your side. Time4Learning is here to help with Time4MathFacts for elementary arithmetic review games, CourseBridge for accelerated middle and high school math and language arts review, and the Time4Learning curriculum for a holistic approach. Plus, you can sign up for our free blog newsletter below to get simple tips on injecting easy learning into your family’s day!