Even if they’ve studied the material and are well prepared, many children still experience the anxiety that comes with taking a test. They may feel nauseous, have trouble focusing, or experience one of the many other symptoms of test anxiety. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), there are three main factors that cause children to experience test anxiety: fear of failure, lack of preparation, and poor test history. Here are four ways you can address those factors in the classroom and help students conquer their anxiety:

1. Help Students Build Their Self-Confidence and Develop a More Positive Mindset

  • Review students’ past tests and discuss where they were successful and where they can improve. If a student has had bad experiences with taking tests, it can cause him or her to automatically have a negative mindset. Reviewing past tests and discussing children’s feelings about tests can give them confidence in their ability to perform well while also giving you an opportunity to help them have a more positive attitude.
  • Remind students that their self-worth is not determined by a test score. This is especially important for students who feel a lot of pressure to perform well on tests or are disappointed or upset about how they did on a test.

2. Give Students Stress Management/Relaxation Techniques to Utilize When Anxious

  • Incorporate yoga into the classroom and teach children various yoga poses they can do at home to reduce stress and anxiety. If you have time, doing a short yoga session before and/or after a test can help students de-stress and focus on the task at hand. Be sure to read “Using Yoga in the Classroom” and “Eight Classroom Yoga Must-Haves” for additional information and resources.
  • Practice a variety of breathing exercises with children to help them calm down when anxious, worried, or stressed. Encourage children to take slow, deep breaths and consciously relax their muscles before and/or during the exam if needed.

3. Provide Students with Tips, Tools, and Resources to Help Them Study and Prepare for Tests

  • Help students learn and develop good study habits. Remind students to study in the days leading up to the test—procrastinating and waiting until the night before to study will cause extra anxiety. Helping children learn to take good notes is another important part of helping them develop good study habits.
  • Find ways to make studying fun. Come up with fun review games to do in class, and give students a few online websites that have games centered on the content and/or skills they’re learning in class. Hot Dots® quiz cards are another great option to consider for your classroom. Students can use Hot Dots® pens to self-check their answers to a variety of math, science, and literacy questions.

4. Work with Parents to Ensure Students Get Any Extra Tutoring or Help They Need

  • Provide parents with the family engagement materials they need to help their children learn at home. Take-home materials that feature parent-friendly suggestions on how to help children practice math, science, and literacy skills at home can strengthen the school-home connection while helping children practice skills and study for tests. TAG You’re It! and mathSHAPES: go figure! are two great examples of family engagement materials that support learning at home.
  • If children are struggling with certain subjects or seem to have severe test anxiety, talk with their parents about counseling and tutoring options. Sometimes children experience test anxiety because they don’t truly understand the material. Offer to tutor the child before or after school or find another tutoring option that will work for the child’s family. If children are experiencing a lot of test anxiety symptoms or can’t seem to overcome their anxiety, talk with their parents about sending them to the school guidance counselor or an outside counselor for extra help.

Check out our Elementary section for a variety of teaching supplies and student materials you can use in the classroom! Our “Teacher and Student Stress Prevention” blog post also features a variety of tips you can utilize during end-of-year testing.