While the end of the school year carries with it the promise of summer, it also heralds a stressful season of looming deadlines and exams. If you or your child suffer from test anxiety, try these tips to finish off the school year on a positive note.
First, recognize that some level of test anxiety can be a good thing. Feeling anxious about a test can motivate you to study hard, stay focused, and do your best. While anxiety isn’t pleasant, recognizing that it has a role to play can help you to harness its benefits.
Second, do what you can to prepare yourself. Study and review your materials well in advance. Let the teacher know about your test anxiety (or that of your child) and ask if they can give you as much information about the test as possible. Knowing something about the test’s subject matter, length, or format can help you feel more prepared.
Although you want to study thoroughly, be sure to pace yourself. Studying for too long a stretch, or trying to cover too much material, can result in fatigue, make you forgetful, and increase your test anxiety. Study strategically by focusing on where you feel you need it most and taking frequent breaks. Reviewing material you feel comfortable with at the beginning and/or end of a study session can help boost your confidence as well.
Third, use positive self-talk as a tool to help you combat test anxiety. As the test draws closer, you may find yourself almost unconsciously talking negatively to yourself about it. Your inner voice may say things like, “I’m going to fail,” or “I never do well at tests.” Pay attention to that internal self-talk, and change it to reflect positively on yourself and your efforts. Tell yourself, “I’ve prepared really well for this test,” “I feel confident that I can succeed in this exam,” and “I have demonstrated resilience under pressure in the past. I can do this.”
No matter what your test results look like, commit to focusing on what you did well and learning what you can from where you struggled. You may want to plan a reward for yourself or your child after a test. This can give you something to look forward to. Be sure to follow through with your planned reward regardless of the test results or your feelings about how the test went. Even if the test did not go as well as you’d hoped, you can celebrate your efforts, the way you handled your preparations and managed your anxiety, and the fact that a test is behind you!