Test Anxiety Strategies for Your Adolescent
By Cassie Gerr, MA Intern
We all experience a little anxiety before a test. Sometimes a little worrying can actually help us perform well and study our best. If the intensity of worry your child is experiencing impacts your child’s performance on tests, it may be time to try strategies for overcoming and coping with test anxiety. Symptoms of test anxiety can include difficulty concentrating, negative thinking, “blanking out”, anger, guilt, shame, racing heart, and excessive sweating. (Mometrix Test Preparation, 2022).
Some or all of these symptoms may occur because tests are stressful for adolescents. This is nothing to be ashamed of and is a sign that the test-taker cares. Test anxiety affects both your body and your mind, often due to the pressure to perform well. No one wants to fail, and many students report they are not good at taking tests. Often improving the experience of test taking starts with acknowledging the underlying reasons for the worry. There are also strategies for adolescents that deal with test anxiety to lower fear and pressure they you can feel more in control:
Prepare early: rather than waiting until the last minute, encourage your child to study in small amounts for one or two weeks leading up to the test. This will help them feel less stressed because they are gaining knowledge in small amounts (Hoffses,2018).
Keep a positive attitude: Remind your child that this test does not define them! Keeping a positive attitude and lifting their self-worth can do a lot in the long run for taking a test (Hoffses,2018).
Get a good night’s sleep: Try to help your adolescent get a full eight hours, if possible, to help with their memory and ability to concentrate for this very important test. They will feel more ready with the right amount of sleep! (Hoffses,2018).
Start with what you do know on the test: Encourage your adolescent to start with what they know – this will allow them to jog their memory and feel more confident answering the more difficult questions (Hoffses,2018).
Eat nutritious meals and get enough hydration: Eating and drinking water are the two most important things to function! Make sure your adolescent stays away from caffeine because it can increase the likelihood of their anxiety even more. (Hoffses,2018).
Take care of yourself: Make sure your adolescent takes care of themselves and knows ways to feel calmer if they experience high anxiety. Trying some breathing techniques during the test might help to clear their mind and focus on what is in front of them right at that moment (Hoffses,2018).
As a parent or caregiver, you are important in this process to make sure your adolescent is feeling heard and understood. Giving your adolescent the space to share and learn coping strategies is key. Teens face a lot of pressure, and it is important to communicate that it is okay if they have a setback because they are only human and you are not expecting perfection. Share if you have your own history with test anxiety. Help them learn what to do for the next time that might work better. Provide tips you’ve learned about. Communicate with your child’s teacher/school to learn about any accommodations available. And if you feel your child needs more support and attention related to anxiety or their symptoms worsen over time, remember there is help available. Contact us today to set up an appointment with one of our therapists.
Overcoming test anxiety (symptoms, causes, and treatments). Mometrix Test Preparation. (2022, May 9). Retrieved September 21, 2022, from https://www.mometrix.com/academy/test-anxiety-tips/
Hoffses, K. (Ed.). (2018, July). Test anxiety (for teens) - nemours kidshealth. KidsHealth. Retrieved September 21, 2022, from https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/test-anxiety.html
Wright, L. W. (2022, February 26). Reduce test anxiety in high school: Test anxiety tips for teens. Understood. Retrieved September 21, 2022, from https://www.understood.org/en/articles/6-tips-for-helping-high-schoolers-with-learning-and-thinking-differences-cope-with-test-anxiety