According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, test anxiety is a form of performance anxiety that can affect even the most prepared students. The ADAA notes that several factors, including fear of failure and a poor test history, can contribute to test anxiety, the presence of which can make it difficult for students to concentrate and may even cause physical symptoms like headache and nausea. Parents of students who are anxious about upcoming tests can share the following test-taking tips with their children, courtesy of the ADAA.

Prioritize preparation. Test preparation should begin well in advance of the test, as cramming the night before may make students feel unprepared and less confident in their knowledge of the material. In addition, studying at least a week or two in advance of the test date affords students the opportunity to take practice tests in conditions similar to those in real testing situations. That familiarity can calm any nerves they may typically experience when taking exams.

Develop an effective test-taking strategy. The ADAA recommends students answer the questions they know first before returning to more difficult questions. Doing so may contribute to students’ confidence and calm their nerves as they approach the rest of the test. When tests include essay portions, students can outline their essays before they begin to write so they have a clearer idea of what they want to say and how they want to say it.

Employ relaxation techniques. Deep, slow breaths and systematic relaxation of muscles can energize students’ bodies and make it easier for them to focus. Students can apply such techniques before exams to curb any pre-test jitters they might have and, if necessary, revisit these relaxation exercises during the test if feelings of nervousness return.

Get enough sleep and eat healthy before the exam. Stress and anxiety are more difficult to cope with when the body is tired, so parents should encourage their children to get adequate sleep the night before an exam. In addition, provide healthy foods for kids to eat prior to the exam so they are not lethargic or hungry once the test begins.

Don’t be afraid to seek help. Plenty of students experience test anxiety, and many schools offer programs designed to help students overcome their test-taking fears. Making use of these programs is a great way for kids to improve their testing performance.

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