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Veteran Educator Offers Tips on Reducing Students' Test Anxiety

Veteran Educator Offers Tips on Reducing Students' Test Anxiety

Test anxiety is a common experience for many students. Luckily, there are plenty of ways educators can help ease the tension with test taking. 

Cheryl Mizerny, veteran educator, shares a number of tips teachers can use in the classroom to help alleviate stress connected to test taking in an article on SmartBlogs.com.

"When students are anxious during tests, they are less likely to perform up to their academic potential," Mizerny wrote. "They often end up doing poorly, which starts a cycle of self-doubt and disappointment. Fortunately, there are many ways that classroom teachers can help ease test anxiety by addressing the needs of the whole child."

In the article, Mizerny said that "optimizing the physical environment on test day will go a long way in helping students be able to focus on the task at hand." She then gave the following tips:

  • This is not the day to try out a completely new seating arrangement or change out posters on the wall. The more that the classroom looks like the conditions in which the material was taught, the better.
  • Try to minimize distractions and keep the classroom as calm and quiet as possible. When a child is already anxious, they are more likely to be distracted by the slightest noise or movement.
  • Allow the students to spread out the seats, if possible, so that they may concentrate on what’s on their desk and not their neighbor’s.
  • Consider supplying some sort of fidget toy. Many soft, quiet “touchable” toys can be found at a dollar store or even homemade. Displacing some of that physical energy can help ease some psychological discomfort.

Mizerny said that "because adolescents are social beings and greatly affected by the opinion of their peers, teachers need to make all efforts to protect their fragile sense of self."

  • Share their grades with them privately. Grades should never be a competition. Posting grades (even if you don’t use student names) is a destructive practice. Even if you don’t think they will figure out whose grade is whose, they will. And it can be hurtful.
  • It is not necessary to share the grade breakdown either for the same reasons as above. It does nothing but rub it in to the student who scored poorly.
  • One practice I have used in all my years of teaching that has made the most difference is to not allow any student to get up to hand in their tests when finished. Seeing their peers get up to turn in a paper early only increases their sense of urgency if they are already petrified of failing. Instead, I tell every student to turn their paper over at their desk and read silently [I teach English and they all have a choice reading book]. When I’ve taught other subjects, I have put some sort of puzzle or activity on the back for them to do while others finish. This practice has received more thanks from students and parents than almost any other thing I do.

Read the full story and comment below. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor

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