Your child has a test coming up and they feel sick. They may have a stomach ache, a headache, rapid heart rate, difficulty breathing or other symptoms. And they don’t know why they’re feeling this way. This may be a clue that they have test anxiety. The good news is that there are test anxiety strategies for elementary students that can help them prepare for a test and get better grades.
What causes test anxiety?
Your child may have test anxiety because of fear of failure, or because they’re not well prepared, or because of bad experiences with tests in the past (Anxiety and Depression Association of America).
Test Anxiety Strategies for elementary students
Tip # 1: Encourage your child to talk about it
Talking to someone can help make them process how they're feeling and can help them manage their feelings.
Tell your child:
Talking with an adult can help you feel better because you can talk about a problem you’re having and get help. Tell someone how you are feeling about a test. Talk to your mom, dad or your teacher. Ask them what they would do to get ready for something important. Ask them what study skills they used to get a good test score. Ask them if they can help you prepare for the test. Listen to their ideas and give them a try!
Tip # 2: Be prepared
Tell your child: It’s really important that you prepare yourself for a test. There are many things you can do to prepare for an exam:
· Pay attention in class. Think of paying attention in class as time to study. The more you pay attention in class the less you have to study outside of class. Which means that you may spend more time playing games or other fun stuff. The more you pay attention, the more you know. The more you know, the better you can do on the test.
· Ask questions in class. When you don’t get what your teacher is saying, ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. There is no such thing as a wrong question. You’re in school to learn. If you don’t know or understand something, you’re going to put the wrong answer on the test. Avoid that by asking questions.
· Do your homework. Another thing you can do is your homework. That’s an easy one right? Doing your homework helps you practice for your test. The more you practice, the more you understand the material. Try to create your own test. If you have trouble creating your test, then ask someone to help you make one. Do your best to complete the practice test. And have someone look at your answers to make sure you are choosing the right answers.
· Listen to music. Doing homework takes time. So take study breaks. During your breaks, you might want to listen to music. It can help you get energized to study. Pick your favorite song, sing along, and dance. Jam out! Pick 1 or 2 songs to listen to during the break. Then, go back to studying and focus.
Tip # 3: Think positively and believe in yourself.
Tell your child: Remember that one test doesn’t define you (one bad test score doesn't mean that you are incapable). You are more than one test grade. If you believe that you’re not good at taking tests, how can you do well? There’s no room for that. Thinking negatively makes it harder to do well on an exam by making you feel more anxious. That’s not what you want, right? So block out the negative thoughts. Say to yourself, “I paid attention in class, did my homework, and practiced. So, look out test! I’m prepared and ready to do my best.” Believe in yourself! I believe in you!
Tip #4: Do breathing exercises
Tell your child: Do you know what can make you feel better and calm you down? Breathing! Try this: Inhale (breath in) slowly through your nose then, exhale (breath out) slowly through your mouth. Do this about 3 to 4 times, and you will feel more relaxed. Do this exercise when you're preparing for an exam. If you’re getting shaky and anxious before or during a test, do this exercise. Breathing is a great relaxation technique and one of the top test anxiety strategies for elementary students. People don’t just use it for test anxiety. You can also use it to calm down before speaking in front of the class.
Tip #5: Rest and eat well
Tell your child: It’s important that you stay healthy before a test. So, get a good night sleep. Resting before a test helps you get energized in the morning and helps you feel better. Also, eat a healthy meal before you take the test. Breakfast is a very important meal, and it can help you feel refreshed and energized. So, what do you need to do before the test day? Sleep. And in the morning of the test day? Eat a healthy meal.
Share your test anxiety strategies for elementary students
What have you learned? Share your test anxiety strategies for elementary students in the comment section below.
Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Test Anxiety. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/children/test-anxiety
Lyness, D. (Ed.). (2013). When Tests Make You Nervous. Retrieved from http://kidshealth.org/en/kids/test-anxiety.html?ref=search&WT.ac=msh-k-dtop-en-search-clk#