Some students get nervous before a test, but those with test taking anxiety, the level of fear will cause the student to not perform as well as he/she is capable. Students may also experience physical, emotional and behavioral effects before or during a test.
Taking tests is a part of education and at some point, your student will encounter a situation where they have to demonstrate their knowledge of a subject or subjects on an exam. Here are some ways to help your student feel more at ease when it comes to test taking.
1. Help Them Identify What Is Making Them Nervous
Helping your child identify and vocalize what is causing them anxiety in a testing situation can reduce some of the stress they are feeling. Is your child worried about being able to comprehend the test because they struggle with reading? Are they worried about remembering their multiplication tables to answer the math problems correctly? Are they concerned about finishing the test on time? Do they feel they haven’t studied enough?
Once their fears have been identified, brainstorm strategies that can help them conquer those worries. Develop a plan to help them build confidence specifically relating to what they’re struggling with. If they lack confidence in their multiplication abilities, find ways to practice those tables so they being to feel more at ease. If they are worried about forgetting the information they’ve learned or the test being too difficult, reassure them that you and their teacher will help them prepare for the test. Figure out ways to build their confidence in their abilities.
2. Give Them A Few Test Taking Strategies
I still remember and use some of the basic test taking strategies that my teachers taught me when I was in elementary school. Here are a few that have been helpful through the years:
- Skip the most difficult questions and come back to them
- Always read the directions thoroughly before you begin
- On a multiple choice test, eliminate the answers you know are incorrect first
- Before turning in the test, review all of your answers and make sure you’ve answered all those difficult ones you skipp
3. Practice With The Testing Format
Sometimes a child is anxious because they don’t know what to expect in the testing situation. For some students, all those bubbles to fill in are intimidating. Show your students various test formats and what the expected answers should look like. Demonstrate what a fill-in-the-blank response would require, what a strong answer to an essay or short answer question would be or how to fill in a scantron test.
Now that the CA state standardized tests are taken on a computer, your child needs to be comfortable with technology and the testing program. You can find practice CAASPP tests on their website here. The more your child is exposed to the testing formats, the more confident they will feel.
4. Teach Them How To Study
Sometimes we assume that everyone just knows how to study. Effective studying goes beyond just memorizing notes. Good study skills include time management, reading and comprehension, proper test preparation and taking good notes.
Proper test preparation will help build confidence in your child and decrease test taking anxiety.
5. Make Sure They Are Ready To Go The Day Of Testing
How do you feel if you don’t have a good night’s sleep (or not enough sleep)? You feel off the next day. How about if you skip breakfast? Or eat something deliciously sweet, but after an hour you crash from the sugar rush? Not at your best, right? The same goes for your kiddos! So, on test day, make sure your children are ready to go, well rested, well fed with protein, and ready to test with a positive attitude.
Once the test is over, debrief and help students analyze what they did well and what they could improve on the next time. Hopefully, some of these tips will help ease the anxious feelings before a test.