The Sunday Panel

How do you help students handle test anxiety?test anxiety

profile pic2Tara, Science in the City: My students definitely struggle with test anxiety. I try to boost their confidence by lots of practice prior to the test with similar looking questions, and practice interpreting questions. During the test I try to give them a ‘pep talk’ and teach them the strategy of going through the test and doing questions that they are more confidence about first.

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Kimberly, Kimberly, OC Beach Teacher:
With the all of the emphasis on standardized testing these days, students and teachers both get anxious. To help my students (and colleagues) deal with their anxiety, I just remind them to keep perspective. I tell them that they have many qualities that make them great human beings; a test doesn’t define who they are. If they’ve prepared and studied, they should just do the best that they are capable of doing. In the grand scheme of things in life, a test is pretty minor.

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Jackie, Room 213: As with anything, preparation is key.  The more prepared the kids feel the less likely they are to feel anxious.  My regular academic students don’t write standardized tests, so the few tests I give them are all skills based, with little regurgitation.  So, if they have been working all along on the skills I will be assessing, they don’t have much anxiety.  If they haven’t been working, well, that’s another story, and maybe they should feel anxious 😉

My IB students are another story.  They write some very high stakes exams that are externally assessed, so we are all feeling anxious in May when they write their exams.  The other IB teachers and I work hard at reminding them that they have been preparing for this for three years and that they have to trust themselves and their abilities.  It’s just like a marathon runner who has been working hard and training for that one big race–s/he has to believe that all those early morning runs and days at the gym will pay off.  It’s still a very stressful week, though, and we just have to be there to support them during the two weeks when they are writing and to remind them to get some sleep and exercise so they can be focused and energetic when they write.

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