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Test Anxiety: How to Help Students Overcome It (page 2)

By — Educational Resource Information Center (U.S. Department of Education)
Updated on Dec 8, 2010

Suggestions to Help Students Overcome Test Anxiety

There are a number of suggestions that school administrators, teachers, school counselors, and parents may utilize to help students effectively manage test anxiety.

Administrators should:

  • attempt to build a strong alliance with parents, students and teachers by explaining to them the importance of testing including potential advantages and disadvantages.
  • encourage teachers to teach the curriculum rather than teaching to the test because ideally the test should reflect the curriculum being taught.
  • develop school policies on standardized tests that are clear and easily understood.
  • consider giving students school-wide practice tests.
  • encourage school counselors to address test anxiety with students individually, in small groups, and during classroom guidance lessons.

Teachers should:

  • become aware of students' developmental levels and the pressure they may be placing on students prior to test administration.
  • teach students successful test-taking strategies that include understanding test time limits, the importance of pacing, and the different type of test formats (e.g. multiple choice, essay, fill in the blank).
  • consider designing some classroom tests using the standardized test format during the school year.
  • help students understand test ceilings and provide information on whether or not they will be penalized for incorrect responses. If points are deducted for incorrect responses students should be informed to leave items blank (Sycamore & Corey, 1990).
  • address test anxiety in class by exploring students' concerns and, if necessary, meet with the school counselor and parents of identified students to confront this issue.

School counselors should:

  • collaborate with school officials to identify students experiencing test anxiety.
  • conduct classroom guidance topics on test anxiety, test-taking strategies, and effective study skills, and consult with teachers.
  • practice different forms of relaxation techniques with students and provide them with the cognitive tools to defeat the negative self-talk they may experience before, during, and after the test.
  • offer workshops to parents focusing on ways they may help their children reduce test anxiety.
  • meet with students experiencing test anxiety individually or in small groups to address this issue in more detail.
  • seek out students who have successfully defeated test anxiety and have them speak or partner with other students to share their experience (Wilkinson, 1990).
  • be aware of the developmental levels of students and recognize when test anxiety is out of control, because more serious anxiety-related problems could be present

Parents should:

  • make sure their children attend school regularly.
  • create and maintain a home environment that will help their children be well rested during regular school days and during the week of testing.
  • evaluate their children's academic progress over a period of time rather than on one single test score.
  • talk with their children and encourage them to do their best.
  • be proactive, contact school officials if they have questions concerning tests results (U.S. Department of Education, 1993).
  • encourage their children to maintain a healthy diet and exercise on a regular basis.
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