Tips for Test-Taking Anxiety

Tips for Test-Taking Anxiety plus FREE downloadable handout of this post at the bottom.

Anxiety can be extremely harsh to school-aged children, but test-taking season is upon them, it can be even worse. No matter how many times parents, teachers, and therapists emphasize that it’s “just a test”, anxiety can take over. Here are some ways to calm student nerves during test taking time.

Prepare all year.

We can help young people with anxiety be prepared for testing by reviewing content year round. The weeks and days before big standardized tests shouldn’t be the first time students see the major concepts covered on the exam. There shouldn’t be a need for cramming or major review. Just like regular assessments throughout the school year, the content should build. Remind children that this is something that you’ve been getting ready for since day one, so they’ll be fine!

Change the test-taking language.

Test. Assessment. Exam. Those words can cause tense feelings and fear for many students with anxiety. Call the test something different and non-threatening. If the work leading up to the test is practice, why not call the assessment the game? Tell your child they are demonstrating their knowledge. It’s not as scary to just show what they know. When the four-letter “t-word (T-E-S-T)” comes up, that’s when anxiety starts to creep forward for many kids.


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Get some rest.

I’m not just talking about getting a full eight hours the night before the exam. Consistent sleep is important for children. Make sure they are getting adequate, uninterrupted sleep each evening by turning off all screens at least an hour before bedtime, having a healthy supper not too close to sleeping hours, and having a relaxing activity like reading a book or taking a bath before lights out. Whether you’re a parent or OT, this advice

Talk about school often.

Keep communication about school open. Ask your student about what they are learning, questions they have, and challenges they encounter. This should not be a conversation that happens right before the test. In fact, each day, ask the child about a high and a low from their day. Some days will be tougher than others, but you might also discover some academic insight and new knowledge that the student would like to share.

Standardized tests can be cause for nervousness and anxiety, but these ways to calm student nerves during test time (and before the test-taking season starts) will help students remain prepared and have confidence to succeed.


Access your FREE DOWNLOADABLE handout of this blog post with HERE.

Have you read our earlier blog post containing tips for school? Check it out HERE.

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