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Help Your Child Conquer Test Anxiety With These 6 Coping Strategies

high school student studying

Many young people struggle with test anxiety, despite having a good understanding of the material. They find themselves unable to focus or perform well under the pressure of certain testing environments. With better testing strategies for students, these challenges can be overcome.

What Is Test Anxiety?

Testing anxiety is a form of performance anxiety, which can affect people at any age. It has the same symptoms associated with other forms of anxiety, and is a very real condition that interferes with a student’s ability to do well and demonstrate their mastery of the topic.

You may have felt the effects of performance anxiety if you have ever had to speak in public, sing a solo, or interview for a new job. When we focus too much on the consequences of failure, many of us can freeze up or fall victim to brain fog.

Physical symptoms of testing anxiety include:

  • Stomach ache or the feeling of ‘butterflies’
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling shaky or sweaty
  • Feeling faint or dizzy

What Causes Test Anxiety for Middle and High School Students?

Students experience test anxiety even when they have studied and know they are well prepared. The test process itself is the focus of their anxiety. Facing that stress, the body releases adrenaline and prepares for ‘fight or flight,’ which causes the physical symptoms of anxiety.

The more the student focuses on the test itself, and perceived failures in the past, the more anxiety they might feel. As their hands start to shake or their stomach gets upset, they feel the pattern repeating itself. Thankfully, there are ways to help your child with managing test anxiety and breaking out of this cycle. These 6 test anxiety tips can help your child succeed.

6 Strategies for Managing Test Anxiety

1. Talk to your child about why they feel anxious.

Attention-Challenged Student Education

Open up the lines of communication with your child, and gain a good understanding of their unique challenges.

  • Is their anxiety focused on specific subjects or does it extend to all classes?
  • Does one type of test like multiple choice cause more stress than an essay format?
  • Can they give the correct answers orally but have problems writing them down?

2. Identify available support systems and accommodations.

It may be easier if your child has an IEP or 504 plan with their school, but even if they do not, reach out to your child’s teacher about accommodations and testing strategies for students with test anxiety. If your school is not supportive of this, you might consider moving to a one-on-one learning environment where the delivery of materials and format of testing can be tailored to your child’s needs.

3. Acknowledge student efforts and identify mastery goals.

Test anxiety can rob children of their confidence and self-esteem. By talking about the challenges students face and taking supportive action at home and at school, we validate the student’s efforts and provide them with a path to demonstrate their mastery of the material in a way that promotes their success. Praising their efforts and recognizing their achievements rebuilds confidence and inspires a lifelong love of learning.

4. Practice the study methods that work best for your child.

With a more individualized learning approach, your child can develop better study habits with your support at home. To promote your child’s ability to manage their test anxiety, you might need to:

  • Make sure that your child gets enough sleep and eats a protein-rich breakfast
  • Use study tools like flashcards or visual aids that can trigger recall during tests
  • Allow for breaks during study time and an organized study space that reduces distractions
  • Help your child schedule consistent study times and prepare for upcoming tests without ‘cramming’
  • Confirm with the teacher that the study notes and tools used at home are reflective of the real test questions and format

5. Use practice tests to build confidence and reduce anxiety.

One of the best ways of encouraging someone before a test is to do a run-through that duplicates the conditions and style of the test itself. Work with your child’s teacher to create practice tests that will mimic the format and material that will appear in the actual test. Encourage your child to manage their time by not getting stuck on a single question, to ask for a break if they need one, and to check their answers one last time before turning in a test.

6. Change the approach and scope of testing.

If your middle or high school offers a Mastery Learning program or a customized learning program with one-to-one teacher-student ratios, the approach and scope of testing can be tailored to better fit your child’s needs. Mastery Learning moves at the pace of the student, and allows testing at shorter intervals, on specific material, and in the format that suits the student best.

What Are We Testing and Why?

One-on-One Education for Middle and High School Students

Rather than shaping the student to the testing method, what if we shaped the testing method to fully understand the student’s mastery of a subject? At Lydian Academy, we focus on the success of each and every student by supporting their individual learning style. Everyone learns differently, and many students have challenges with attention or testing in a traditional classroom setting.

With fully accredited coursework, flexible scheduling, and a one-on-one teaching approach for every student, Lydian Academy strives to provide the most individualized attention to the strengths and challenges of your student. You can enroll your student today or find out more with a virtual open house or a tour of our campuses in Menlo Park and Burlingame, CA. Feeling anxious about making a change? Contact us to learn how Lydian Academy may turn your child’s test anxiety into a lifelong love of learning.


We offer a unique year-round one-on-one learning experience, personalized to you and your schedule.

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