Test anxiety is very real. Even the very best students might stumble when the test lands on their desks.
As teachers, our job is to help our students. But how can you help students freaking out about a test?
Keep reading to discover our top 10 tips!
Write It Out
You might think of journaling as a lost art in the age of technology. But bringing it back in your classroom can help students deal with test anxiety.
Encourage your students to regularly write about their stresses and concerns, especially regarding testing and school. By getting these thoughts out, students won’t have to deal with any seriously pent-up feelings during the exam.
Pop quiz: if a student is seriously freaking out during a test, do you have a plan to deal with them?
Check with your headmaster about possible options for accommodating students. With his permission, you may be able to allow students a temporary breather or even an isolated test environment.
By providing reasonable accommodations, you can help students manage stress and find test success.
Meditation and Mindfulness
If you don’t try it yourself, mindfulness activities may seem a bit strange. How can a handful of exercises help improve your quality of life?
In reality, many of these exercises (such as controlled breathing) are tied to physiological responses. Such breathing exercises can help people with any anxiety, and that includes test anxiety.
Teaching students such exercises early in the year can lead to significant benefits during test time.
Taking Breaks As Needed
You’ve probably noticed most of these tips start well before the test day. And this next tip is no exception.
Our bodies are like machines. Without proper maintenance and fuel, we cannot run at full capacity.
Encourage your students to take breaks during major projects throughout the school year. This helps them realise when they are overloaded and to take a break.
Similarly, encourage them to sleep well before the test and grab a good breakfast that morning. Both you and they will soon notice the difference!
Combine teachers and parents
It’s great that you want to help your classes deal with test anxiety. However, you shouldn’t be doing this all on your own.
Try to get other teachers and even the headmaster involved. In fact, you can spearhead some school-wide efforts that help to coordinate students, parents, and teachers alike.
Chances are your senior team will love the idea. It serves as great PR and can genuinely help the entire school.
Students mostly think of stress as an obstacle to their success. However, you can show them this doesn’t have to be the case.
For example, their heart may beat faster during a test. But it also beats more quickly when they are playing sports or get some great news. You can help them understand that stress is its own kind of excitement, and that excitement can be a powerful motivation for accomplishing goals.
Don’t be afraid to talk about your struggles with stress. This helps them realise they aren’t alone!
A “Test” Run
As an adult, how do you prepare for a major event? Most of us practice that event through simulation (such as taking preparatory tests ahead of a certification exam).
You can actually do the same for your own students. Give them a practice test, but don’t tell them it’s a practice test. Allow them to complete the test and then mention it was a practice run.
This opens the door for some useful conversations about stress management. Furthermore, it helps them deal with anxiety before they do the real thing.
Parents, Students, Teacher: Same Team
Have you noticed some students with really keen anxiety? You should inform their parents about the problem.
The goal is not to berate the student for their anxiety. Instead, you can show that everyone is on the same team and committed to the student’s success.
Plus, the parents can help the student practice stress management techniques at home. This will be a significant help during test time.
The chances are that you also experience a kind of test anxiety. Why else would you be reading the article?
You mustn’t let that anxiety seep into your voice, face, or teaching. Students can pick identify tension with ease, even on an unconscious level, and you might make a stressful situation that much worse.
Try the same mindfulness techniques you offer to students. This can calm you down and also help you better teach those techniques in the future.
Become a Real Advocate
The biggest thing you can do to help your students is to be their advocate. You need to be loud and consistent in your support for their success.
Such support doesn’t mean test anxiety will magically go away. But there will be less of it when students know how much you care about them: not just their test scores, but their actual feelings.
Finally, this approach helps create the kind of genuine rapport that breaks down barriers and helps reduce anxiety.
Let us know your thoughts? How will you help your students to combat the fear of test anxiety? Maybe you’re already working on something that you’d like to share with us?
10 Ways to Help Students Suffering From Test Anxiety