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12 Strategies for Overcoming Test Anxiety

With finals around the corner, many students are becoming anxious about end of the year exams. Although a small dose of the jitters can provide some motivation, larger degrees of anxiety can virtually cripple many young learners. 

What is Test Anxiety?
Test anxiety is a product of fear or worry about a test or quiz.  In fact, a student that struggles with test anxiety may know the material, but he or she can not access the information during the examination due to this enfeebling mental state.  

What are the Causes of Test Anxiety?
Test anxiety can manifest from a number of root causes?
  • Questioning ones own abilities can create the fear that you will do poorly or even fail a test.
  • Distractions by other students, noise, or even one's own internal thoughts can make it difficult to concentrate.
  • Physical symptoms can also hinder students.  Short breaths, fast heart rates, nausea, headaches, and body sweats can make it difficult to recall answers.
  • Mental blocks can also make it difficult to recall learned information from one's memory.
How Can You Beat Test Anxiety?
Here are a few strategies that can help:
  1. Create a distraction-free study environment.  If students prepare for tests with full concentration, they will learn the material quicker and better.
  2. Be sure to have students review all class materials.  This includes class work, homework, notes, prior tests, and projects.
  3. Create study materials and encourage students to show their approach to their teacher to assure that all the content is addressed.
  4. Form a study schedule so that students can prepare for tests over time.
  5. Encourage your students to get a good nights sleep before the test.
  6. Ask your students to consume a nutritious meal before the test and avoid sugary and starchy foods. Sugar and starch require a lot of energy to digest and can make it difficult to concentrate.  In contrast, foods like meats, eggs, nuts, and vegetables can help to energize the brain. 
  7. Help your students make a conscious effort to take deep breaths and relax any tense muscles while taking a test. 
  8. Teach good test-taking strategies to your students such as: doing the easiest questions to enhance confidence, answering every question - even if you are not sure of the answer, using all the time allotted, and eliminating answers that are definitely wrong.  To learn more strategies, CLICK HERE
  9. When taking the test, encourage your students to ask for clarification when needed.  Although teachers will not provide answers, they can often clarify confusing words or questions that can help lead students to the correct answer.
  10. Instruct your students about memory strategies such as mnemonics and hooking to aid recall during the test.  If you would like to learn more about memory strategies, CLICK HERE. 
  11. Consider teaching your students the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).  This method unites acupressure and dialogue to relax the mind and body.  It also helps to relieve any lingering energy blockages due to past trauma or struggles.
  12. Consider doing a mindful meditation with your students before the test to help calm the mind, relax the body and enhance confidence.  This strategy will help students become aware of their anxiety, observe the way they are feeling and then choose to let it go. 
I hope you found these strategies helpful.  If you have any other ideas, please share them by commenting below this blog.
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Go Dyslexia, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to &  
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