The most difficult part of tutoring has got to be hearing that your student failed their test even though they were doing the problems perfectly for you the night before. When I heard this story from a student of mine in Rancho Cucamonga for the third time, my brain started whirling: “What went wrong? How could you fail another test? What are we going to do?!?”
What went wrong? Test anxiety! Test anxiety is a common problem that can have negative effects upon students including poor performance and poor grades, which can in turn decrease their self-esteem and motivation. Furthermore, it can lead to unfavorable opinions about school and learning. The question that we come to is “what can we do to combat test anxiety and help our students enjoy their education?”
While a little bit of anxiety is healthy and improves students’ performance too much leads to poor performance and poor grades. One of the most difficult things about test anxiety is that it gets worse as the expectation of the student increases. Basically, test anxiety hits the hardest when it counts the most, which explains why some students always bomb the big test. Nonetheless there are things students can do to combat the harmful effects of test anxiety.
The best thing students can do is be prepared. Preparation includes studying well in advance to avoid last minute cramming, which can be a stressful ordeal in itself. Preparation also includes, getting and staying organized so they know how to best manage their time during the test and practicing answering questions of the type they will encounter when the big day arrives.
During the test, students can also use a few tricks to help keep their anxiety in check. First and foremost, they need to keep their head in the game and avoid daydreaming and needless worrying. To avoid becoming overly anxious, students ought to start with the easier questions and go back to trickier questions after they’ve gotten a few correct answers under their belt. A good way to keep from getting overwhelmed is to break tough problems into manageable pieces.
When in the grips of anxiety, it may be difficult, but it is helpful to stay positive and use uplifting self-affirmations. Students can remind themselves “I did this type of problem perfectly all week” or “I am a smart person.” Finally, they need to remember to breath. If your student gets completely overwhelmed, tell them to stop, put their pencil down and take three deep breaths before continuing.
If you or your child is struggling with study habits, test preparation or suffers from test anxiety, please call The Tutoring Solution at 909- 973- 9089. Our passionate, experienced tutors can help!