“I hate tests!” “There’s so much to study!” “I’m so nervous about exams!” These phrases are commonly heard from students during the few, nerve racking days before a test.
Test Anxiety is a form of performance anxiety (when someone feels pressure to perform well) defined as “a state of mind when one is filled with intense apprehension or fear of real or imagined negative outcomes towards a test situation.” Symptoms can be as simple as a feeling of nervousness, having “butterflies” in the stomach, or heart beat going faster but can get as severe as tension headache, shakes, sweats, or in some cases the feeling that you might pass out, nausea, and even vomiting. Test anxiety also has negative mental effects, and can interfere with a student’s ability to remember facts, or to think clearly.
Especially in Singapore, the taking of tests and exams are a part of life when you are a student. So figuring out ways to cope with test anxiety can be a crucial part of student achievement in the classroom. Saying things like, “You can do it!” “I believe in you,” “You ARE good at math!” and helping them think positively, will go much further than you think.
A lack of preparation on the part of the student is common cause for test anxiety. The best way to get over this is simple: STUDY! As a parent you can help by assisting your child in making a study schedule, and ensuring that they stick to it. The few weeks before exams it is a good idea to start studying each subject on a daily basis. If you and your child agree on a predetermined time for study, it will lead to less arguing over when it is time to study and when it is time to play. A study schedule will also give your child time to focus on particular subjects, or areas that they are having difficulty with. A well prepared student will have less test anxiety, as they know that they have done all they can to ensure that they do well.
Below are a few more idea’s to help your child get ready for the day of the big test.
- Take Care of Yourself
Satisfying physical needs is crucial if you are to do well on a test. If you are tired, hungry, thirsty, or need to go to the bathroom it is hard to do your best. The night before a test, students will need to get a full night of rest. Even if they feel like they need to stay up late and study, it will be more beneficial to them to get to bed early. On the day of exams it is critical to eat a healthy and filling meal. Children will especially benefit from a full breakfast including fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein. Make sure they bring a nutritious snack and a bottle of water for before the exam, just in case. Students should be reminded to drink water, and go to the bathroom just before the test.
Flashcards are a great way to study for almost any subject. When studying math you can make a flashcard that on one side says, “10-6 =” and on the other side says “4.” In geography, when reviewing countries and their capitals, you could have “Japan” written on one side and “Tokyo” on the other. It is important that the student make the cards themselves, instead of buying some online or using the cards of a friend, as the creation of the cards will also act as a form of review. These cards should be reviewed two or three times a day as needed, and parents can even test their children to check their progress.
- Communicate with Teachers
Another great way to get ready for a test is for a student to talk to their teacher. Often, teachers are more than willing to clarify or explain what will be covered on the exam, if they are simply asked. This will ensure that your child will get the most out of study time, and not waste time studying material that won’t be on the test.
- Test Practice
Practice testing can also be beneficial to a student suffering from test anxiety. Making a practice test (with real questions and review questions similar to those on the test), re-creating the conditions of the test (quiet, no interruptions, and timed), and then taking the test may help students feel more comfortable with the idea of taking the test. Having already experienced the testing environment will calm them down, and may even boost their confidence a little bit as they know what it will be like, and they realize it isn’t that scary!
- Talk About Results
Always encourage your child to give their best no matter what. This way, it lessens the pressure on your already stressed child. Tell them that their effort counts most, and regardless of the result, you’re here to help them.
What are some ways you prepare your child for tests and exams? Share your ideas with us down below.