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March 7, 2019

2 min

Amy Pinter

5 Tips for Test Anxiety

Their scores do not define them.

Remind your student that their scores do not define them as a student or person. The root of anxiety is often less about the test and more about the identity associated with failing. Somehow the act of failing even a test has evolved into a personality identity. Remind your child that success comes from their willingness to try again and again. After all, Elvis Presley was told he couldn’t sing and yet he went on to become an iconic singer. Michael Jordan has pointed out that he “on 26 occasions was entrusted to take the game winning shot and I missed.” Yet, those

To Cram or Not to Cram? That is the question.

Although it is important to study, students should avoid cramming the night before. According to a UCLA study, professor of psychiatry Andrew J. Fuligni and colleagues report that “Sacrificing sleep for extra study time, whether it's cramming for a test or plowing through a pile of homework, is actually counterproductive.” Steady study schedule using flashcards, mnemonics, or note review is more effective than a late night cram session.

Think positive

Dwelling on the negative puts the mind in a negative flight or fight response. This response is common for performance or test anxiety. Essentially the child sets themselves up to fail because they already believe that they won’t do well. Pump them up, remind them that they have studied, they know the information, and that it isn’t the score that defines their intelligence. Positive affirmations such as “ I like how you are trying even if you are scared.” or “No matter what the grade, know you tried your hardest.”

Use it as a teaching moment

So they bombed that test re-affirming their negative beliefs and strengthening their anxiety for future tests. Now what? It’s time to bring out the big guns and a spoon. Get out the ice cream or that package of Oreos and talk about what areas they struggled on. Instead of offering the solution, ask them to find the solution. They may not get to redo the quiz or test but by helping them find what they missed, you can help them rebuild their confidence. Don’t focus on the number of wrong answers or “if you know it now why didn’t you at the test?” but focus on the now. Ask them what they felt they could have done differently. Change the focus of the poor score to a focus of learning.

Rest is the Best

No matter what your child claims, rest is the best. According to the CDC, “Children and adolescents who do not get enough sleep have a higher risk of obesity, diabetes, injuries, poor mental health, and problems with attention and behavior.” We all need sleep and can agree that we function better when rested. Often students stay up late watching movies and playing video games. Decompressing after a day of work or school is important but shouldn’t come at the expense of rest. And who are we kidding...who doesn’t love a good night’s sleep?!

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