April 29, 2019
Dear Families and Friends of Trinity,
One of the many questions I have been asked in the last few weeks was, “How do I help my child with test anxiety?” Even if your child is performing well in class, testing anxiety can cause interference to their performance on tests. I place this type of anxiety in the same class as public speaking. Students who are above grade level in reading, language arts, and math, yet get nervous at the mention of the word “test” or “public speaking” could be struggling with test anxiety.
Students who panic on a test often make trivial mistakes. For example, not reading the directions thoroughly or skipping questions as they rush to finish the test are common mistakes. Sometimes students know the information but are unable to recall it in a testing environment due to anxiety. Children who become anxious at the thought of a test may feel convinced they are going to fail. Other reasons children may be experiencing anxiety include lack of preparation, fear of disappointing the teacher or parents, or low self-confidence. Fortunately, there are many things parents can do to help reduce test stress. In the paragraphs to follow are some ideas as to what can be done to help an anxious test-taker overcome their fears.
Enlist the help of your child’s teacher and ask about test-taking skills taught in the classroom. Once you know what s/he has been taught at school, you can review the same strategies with your child at home. It is important to reinforce the learning with a test-taking atmosphere of formality, e.g., a quiet area, timed, high stakes.
Help your child study a little every day using different methods, do not try to cram the night before the test. Study techniques can include making flashcards, writing and rewriting keywords, making up a practice test, or even having your child teach you the material.
When helping your child prepare for a test, communicate the A-B-C-D Rules for Test Taking:
Always read the directions twice.
Breathe in and out 5 times to relax.
Carefully read the directions, questions, and all the answer choices.
Double-check your work before you hand in the test.
On the day of the test, make sure your child is well-rested and has eaten a healthy breakfast. Make sure they have sharpened pencils or other materials they will need. After the test, praise your child for their hard work and help him/her celebrate with a special activity, such as taking a walk or playing a game together. Do not put too much emphasis on the grade and do not focus on the anxiety if they get upset. Instead, when the test comes home, approach it casually, reviewing errors and talking about ways to improve next time.
With warm regards,
Mark J. Ravelli
Mark Ravelli / Head of School
Trinity Episcopal School
720 Tremont Street Galveston, TX 77550