Test Prep to Reduce Test Anxiety

We are coming up to the time of year that most students dread.... final exam time!  I currently teach secondary students and I see their anxiety and hear their fear.  The more they talk about their test anxiety the worse it gets... it's a viscous cycle!  I taught a student last year who spent more time fussing about a test than ever doing anything productive.  Over the last 20 years of teaching I've come up with a few ways to reduce their anxiety.

1.  Talk about it!  Address student fears and concerns by asking them what aspect of the test they're most worried about.  Ask them to share their concerns with each other... sometimes just knowing that others feel the same way is enough to make my students feel better.

2.  Create a plan!  Students at my school write a series of final exams over a week in June and my students can find that very overwhelming.  I give them a blank calendar and they write in the exams they have and then I ask them to schedule their study time.  Just seeing it all laid out on paper and creating a study plan can be helpful to reduce anxiety.

3.  Make sure there are no surprises.  I give students clear lists of what they are expected to know for their test / exam.  I provide a check list of topics and skills they will be assessed on.  Rather than saying "You have an astronomy test next Wednesday." I give them a specific list of vocabulary and concepts they will be tested on.

4.  Review, review and review some more!  Practice makes perfect!  We play review games (see this blog post for a fun review game!), we do crossword puzzles (my kids LOVE these as a take home study guide - I make mine using www.eclipsecrossword.com and I give them practice test questions.

Here's a fun and easy review activity for you and your students - FREE in my TpT Store!


5. Test Day Fun!  On the day of a test I always give my students a candy to suck on... a lollipop / sucker or a hard candy.  They love the candy of course... but there is something soothing and relaxing about having a sucker in their mouth.  Perhaps it's a throwback to being a baby?!?  But it's a very calming technique for my students... and it's an inexpensive, fun and tasty treat for them.

6. Teach Test Taking Skills.  I teach my students throughout the year little tricks to help them write a test.  I tell them to skip questions they're not sure about... and to go back to them later.  I tell them to never leave anything blank... there are a ton of tips and tricks we pass on as teachers.  Vocabulary associated with tests can also be taught.  I have a set of Exam Key Word posters that I use to teach key word vocabulary to guide students in test writing.  You can purchase a set in my TpT store HERE.


Would love to hear of any other test taking tips below to help reduce student anxiety!



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