A student uses a pencil to take a standardized test

5 ways to help students cope with standardized testing anxiety

As much as we hear educators and parents alike mention how much they dislike standardized testing, unfortunately it is part of the educational journey. Let’s find ways to make the best of it!

I’ve been teaching third grade for quite some time now, and, since third grade is the year we introduce state testing, I often hear students and parents bring up the big emotions and anxiety that come with it. Here are five ways to help students cope with standardized testing anxiety:

  1. Provide calming techniques. It is okay to recognize and come to terms with what we are feeling. In fact, it helps us know when to use techniques to help us. Some of these can include meditation and breathing exercises. There are so many techniques out there, and it is time to explore which will work best for your student. Practice them, and let them know that it is okay to use them to stay calm.
  2. Promote self-affirmations. Now more than ever we should practice and promote self-affirmations! For parents, this can be as simple as reciting them in the car on the way to school. A few examples are: “I am stronger than I know,” or “I am confident in my skills.” Positive words can go a long way!
  3. Make healthy choices. It is imperative for students to get a good night’s sleep and eat a healthy breakfast during testing days. Imagine how discouraged or sluggish they may feel if they only get a little sleep and have a heavy breakfast? Students need a sharp and agile mind to give the test their best.
  4. Do not fixate on time. Encourage students to leave their watches at home and to try not to focus on how much time is left, as this can add to any anxiety. In order to not rush to beat the time, encourage them to ignore the clock altogether. Students should take a deep breath and take it one question at a time. They’re given a full day for a test, so advise them to use all the time they need to complete sections successfully.
  5. Plan a reward. After students have worked so hard on their tests, why not reward them after it is all said and done? Help them to focus on the fun they will have afterward! This can be as simple as watching a movie or having a fun snack.

What other strategies will you implement with your test-takers at home or at school? Let us know at @ArizonaEducator on Twitter or Arizona PBS KIDS on Facebook!


About the author

Marissa Will is the mother of two, Olivia (5) and Logan (4). Writing was her first passion: she’s a freelance writer and a Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication alumna. Will is currently educating the future leaders of tomorrow: She has spent the past eight years teaching third grade with a master’s degree in elementary education from Northern Arizona University-Yuma.

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