Test anxiety is a problem many of our students deal with. The difficulty is that it is self-reinforcing. The student feels anxious about the test, the anxiety leads to poor performance on the test, and the poor performance leads to lower grades, and greater anxiety about the class (and about the tests in particular). And aside from the impact test anxiety can have on performance, well, it just isn’t a fun experience.
So what can students do to interrupt this cycle? Here are three ideas
Practice tests in a test-like environment
One of the biggest ways to overcome anxiety is to be familiar with the experience that is causing the anxiety. So if you are anxious about testing, then study by replicating a testing experience. Try this: create a list of math problems that approximates the number that you would have on a typical test. Give yourself an hour to work through the problems, just like you would on a test. Do this 2 or 3 times before your test, and you’ll probably find that when you sit down and take the the test, it is going to feel very similar to your practice. And BTW, this is good practice for your test!
Plan your studying…don’t cram!
If there is one thing that is more stressful than taking a test, it is cramming the night before for a test you aren’t quite prepared for. Part of eliminating test-anxiety is about feeling confidence, and a late-night study session is anything but confidence boosting. You aren’t digging into the material to the depth you should be, you are skipping over anything that seems less important, This is not how to go into a test with self-esteem!
Feeling more confident for a test starts at the beginning of the unit. Do your reading for the class ahead of time, and you’ll feel more confident every time you are in the class. Take good notes during your reading and lectures, and you’ll feel more confident in your level of understanding of the material. Make the night before the test study session a kind of “I don’t really need to, but I’m just going to brush up a bit” so that if/when the unexpected happens, you have time to adjust and it doesn’t throw you off too much. If you condition yourself to feel confident in class every single day OTHER than test day, that is going to rub off on test day.
Learn from your mistakes on previous tests
It’s easy to look at a poor performance on a test and say, “Darn it! I knew the material I just panicked during the test!” And that may well be true. But that doesn’t mean there are not lessons to learn from the mistakes you made on the test. Make it your goal to understand the root cause of each error you made (a root cause other than anxiety!) Make this list of a) errors and b) corrective behaviors part of your study materials for the next test. So, maybe you dropped a negative sign on a math problem because you were nervous…but is there something you can do next time so that you don’t drop it, despite being nervous? There absolutely is! Make every test that you don’t perform well on an opportunity to learn about yourself and your test-taking tendencies. Learning the right lessons from a bad test could end up being more valuable to you than doing well in the first place! These lessons, just as much as the class material the test covered, can play a big role in boosting your confidence for next time.
What does your son or daughter to do combat test anxiety?
Arm your kids with the tools they need to more confidently step into the classroom on test day! Call us at 858.551.2650 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about our “Study Skills” summer workshop