Decrease Your Test Anxiety this Spring

Eight tips to help prepare your class for standardized tests and to lower both your students' and your own test anxiety.

By Mollie Moore

Test anxiety

As spring approaches, so do standardized tests. The weight of these tests is ever increasing for both students and teachers. For students, they can make the difference between passing and failing a grade level. Testing can weigh heavily on teachers’ evaluations, and school districts’ success is measured by how well their schools perform on these exams. Though we wish we could ignore their significance, we cannot, so we must prepare. These tips are just for that—standardized test preparation.

1. Teach testing strategies.

One skill many of today’s youth lack is logical reasoning. For example, many will not think to skip a question that they do not know on a timed test. Teaching them various test-taking strategies, like skipping particular questions, can increase the accuracy of their answers and their overall scores.

2. Use sample test documents for paper tests.

Having upper-grade classes practice writing their answers on answer documents can help to decrease the number of errors caused by transferring answers from the testing document to the answer document. It allows them to practice aligning the problem number with the answer.

3. Word your questions with testing vocabulary.

Though it can be hard to make some questions sound like standardized test questions, strive to use the vocabulary and wording that the test-makers use. Anxiety will not rise as rapidly when pupils encounter words such as analyze if they are familiar with the vocabulary.

4. Arrange the room for testing mode for other tests throughout the year.

When possible, arrange the seats as you would for testing and use the barriers that will be used during test time. That way, the students know prior to testing what it will feel like the day of the test.

5. Practice typing for electronic tests.

As more and more tests are given electronically, prepare your class by practicing typing. This can take the form of actual typing lessons, or it can be a window of time during which your class writes a story on the computer. Typing practice will allow learners to feel more comfortable with the computers they will use during testing.

6. Play a fun review game.

Review games can help ease nervousness about a test as they help pupils recall information they have already learned. Frequently, this can give them a sense of peace as they realize how much they know. A fun review game, like Jeopardy, dissipates even more worry. Class members become distracted by the game and can forget that the purpose is to review information.

7. Develop a motivational system.

Many young people are not intrinsically motivated. Set a goal for them for the test. This could be a particular score if the students are returning to the building the following year. The goal could also be related to how long or how well they work. Make certain all are aware of the goal and are reminded of why they are striving for it. Ensuring that all of the students can reach the goal can determine the motivational system’s success. Another way to ensure its success is to solicit your class’s input when deciding on a reward.

8. Start preparation early.

By mid-year, your class can tell when you are stressed and when you are relaxed. Early preparation will make you more relaxed as you approach testing time. You will be able to feel more comfortable that testing anxiety does not obscure the results you receive; your class will be familiar with how to take a test, the testing format, and the material on the test. Preparing early will also allow the class to better retain testing strategies, thus helping them beyond the context of standardized tests.

This spring, use these tips and watch test anxiety fade away.