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March 8, 2017

Testing: Eliminate Obstacles and Embrace Challenges

Written By: Cheryl Saoud
Originally Published On: January 2012
Category: The School Year
Testing Anxiety - How to Help Students Overcome It

Helping Students Overcome Testing Anxiety

Test anxiety often interferes with learning and lowers test performance.  Signs of anxiety include headaches, stomach aches, sweating, shortness of breath, and rapid heartbeat.  Students can feel gloomy and fearful with thoughts of inadequacy and frustration.  There are many obstacles that stand in the way of test anxiety.  With state assessments looming, teachers are preparing students to eliminate obstacles and embrace challenges with tips to reduce anxiety and increase study skills.

Helping Students Overcome Testing Anxiety

Steps to Success

  • Having a positive approach to learning and testing is challenging when test anxiety is present.  I recommend reading 7 Habits of Happy Kids by Sean Covey.  The seven stories have subtle messages teaching students good habits.
  • It’s important to develop effective study habits with proper time management.  Setting aside approximately 20 minutes each night to review old materials and practice new concepts is key to building confidence.   A cram session will heighten student test anxiety.
  • A balanced, healthy diet includes more than just food! Students should remain physically active for 30 consecutive minutes, get a restful 8 hours of sleep, and eat a balanced diet each morning.
  • Improving testing skills begins with daily routines.  During weekly assignments, I provide a set of written directions to ensure students will take the time to preview an assessment and to read all the instructions.  While previewing daily work, I have kids circle keywords in hopes to activate schema.  Your little learners are sure to absorb positive habits.
  • Tic-Toc, I Hit a Road Block.  Tricky problems can be time consuming and add frustration.  I’ve taught my students to pay attention to the time they spend on a problem when they are stuck.  Students should reread the question and reattempt answering.  If you hit a road block, pay attention to the clock and move on.  The kids are taught to circle the question to remind him/her to come back later.
  • Testing can be stressful with lots of pressure to succeed.   The most important tip for young learners would be to RELAX.  To ensure motivation and relaxation, I pair my class with a buddy class.  This partnership provides students a time for collaboration and encouragement.


American behaviorist, social philosopher, and poet B. F. Skinner says, “Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten.”  The meaning of this quote has been debated and discussed for years.  I truly believe education is lifelong process.  I strive to educate my students on ways to remain successful in life…not on an assessment.  The strategies listed above can transfer to many real world situations.



Testing Anxiety - How to Help Students Overcome It

About the Author

Cheryl Saoud is a second grade teacher from Jacksonville, Florida.



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  • Jdupuis
    March 8, 2017

    It is amazing how many nine year old students are exhibiting anxiety symptoms that include inability to sleep and concentrate, fear of failure, and not passing a state standardized test.
    It is sad to see so many students who are giving up when they need to be praised, tutored, and guided into mastery of skills.

  • Laura
    March 12, 2012

    Love the 20 minutes of review a night. I stress this with my students each year!

  • JUlie
    January 15, 2012

    I love the idea of “Tic-Toc, I Hit a Road Block”. What a great idea!

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