Test Anxiety 101: How to Calm the Storm

Your child has been studying for days for their upcoming exam. They completed practice tests, received additional tutoring, joined a group study session, and felt more confident than ever. They arrive in class and receive their 30-question multiple choice exam. They write their name, today’s date, and subject, and that’s as far as they can remember. Their mind goes blank, their heart starts beating faster, hands start to sweat, and they can no longer concentrate. Despite the hours spent studying, they end up receiving a D on their exam. Does this sound like your child? Unfortunately, test anxiety occurs in many children and limits their ability to perform well on tests.

Anxiety creates a crippling effect that creates barrier blocking potential success. According to the American School Counselor Association, “Stressful emotions can inhibit a student’s ability to absorb, retain and recall information. Anxiety creates a kind of “noise” or “mental static” in the brain that blocks our ability to retrieve what’s stored in memory and also greatly impairs our ability to comprehend and reason. The key to understanding how anxiety inhibits cognitive and physical performance lies in understanding how emotions affect the rhythmic activity in the nervous system.”

For some students, they feel a lot of pressure from their parents to succeed. Thus, they have a fear of failing and put additional pressure on themselves. Unfortunately, the additional stress can limit their success on tests and negative outcomes hinder their self-esteem and confidence. Students who do not take out enough time to prepare may also experience test anxiety as they did not thoroughly go through the course material. According to the American Test Anxieties Association, “About 16-20% of students have high test anxiety, making this the most prevalent scholastic impairment in our schools today. Another 18% are troubled by moderately-high test anxiety.”

Parents, become involved in your child’s preparation and notice warning signs that they may be experiencing a difficult time in studying or comprehending the material. Hire a tutor if necessary to help your child become more confident on the subject being tested. Encourage them. Ensure your child receives at least 8-10 hours of sleep and eats a healthy breakfast.

Published by: Tyler Gibson

Marketing Intern, CBHC