How to Help a Teen Overcome Test Anxiety

Three Methods:Establishing Healthy Study HabitsPreparing for and Taking a TestSeeking Professional Help

Chances are if you’ve taken a test, you’ve experienced test anxiety. Teens today are under increasing pressure to perform highly on tests and this pressure can cause anxiety. Establishing healthy study habits, adequately preparing for exams, and seeking professional help when necessary can help teens overcome test anxiety.

Method 1
Establishing Healthy Study Habits

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    1
    Create a regular study schedule and stick to it. Set aside regular blocks of time to study for specific subjects and tests. This will help you adequately prepare which in turn can lower anxiety levels.
  2. 2
    Ask for help with study skills. Studying efficiently and being adequately prepared for a test are key to doing your best. Ask your teachers or school counselor for help with learning more efficient ways to study for tests.
  3. 3
    Improve your test-taking skills. It’s important to develop good test-taking skills, and your teachers and school can point you to specific resources that can help you. There are also a few simple guidelines that will improve your test-taking skills.[1]
    • Read each question on the test carefully.
    • Make an outline for each essay before beginning to write.
    • Answer the easiest questions first and then move on to the harder ones.
  4. 4
    Take regular breaks while studying. When you study it’s important to sit down for a set amount of time and walk away from the studying when that time is up. Taking breaks will give your mind a rest and help you refocus for the next block of study time.[2]
    • Try studying in one hour blocks. Study for the first 50 minutes and then take a 10 minute break.
  5. 5
    Learn relaxation techniques. Researchers from Eastern Illinois University found that relaxation and breathing exercises helped reduce test anxiety. Establish some relaxation exercises you can do at home and while taking an exam.[3]
    • Try inhaling for ten seconds and then slowly exhaling for another ten seconds. Make sure you are using your diaphragm, not your chest, to breathe. Your lower abdomen should rise and fall.

Method 2
Preparing for and Taking a Test

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    1
    Ask for help with test content. Asking a teacher or professor to help you develop a study plan or for one-on-one tutoring or help is a great way prepare for exams. Teachers and professors can help point you in the right direction as far as what specific course materials you should be studying.
  2. 2
    Don’t cram for exams. Procrastinating until the last minute will only increase anxiety and negatively affect your sleep. Make study time for your test a priority. Stick to your established study schedule, and add more time to study for a particular test if necessary.
  3. 3
    Get a good night’s sleep! How well a student performs on a test is directly related to how much sleep she got the night before. Being well rested will help you do your best on test day. Shoot for at least 8 hours of sleep the night before an exam.[4]
  4. 4
    Eat a healthy breakfast the morning of the test. Stick to whole grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, and lean proteins like turkey bacon and avoid foods high in sugar like many breakfast cereals. Feeding your brain a healthy breakfast can positively affect your test performance.
  5. 5
    Avoid sugary drinks, coffee, and energy drinks. The large amounts of sugar in soda and energy drinks can cause spikes in blood sugar. Caffeinated beverages often increase anxiety levels. Instead drink water to keep yourself hydrated.[5]
  6. 6
    Practice relaxation techniques during the test. If you find yourself feeling anxious while taking the exam, stop and do one of the relaxation techniques you’ve been practicing. Try breathing in for 10 seconds and then exhaling for 10 seconds, repeating for 5 breaths.

Method 3
Seeking Professional Help

  1. 1
    Talk to a school nurse, teacher, or school counselor. If your test anxiety is affecting your performance at school, you should consult a trusted school official or teacher. They will help point you in the direction of resources to help you deal with your test anxiety.
  2. 2
    Set up an appointment with a mental health professional. Test anxiety can be severe and many teens benefit from seeing a professional counselor. Meeting with a psychologist or other mental professional can help teens develop a skill set for dealing with test anxiety.
  3. 3
    Address any learning disabilities. Test anxiety can be rooted in an underlying learning disability that could be undiagnosed. Students with learning disabilities are often afforded special accommodations, such as more time to take a test.[6]

Article Info

Categories: Tests and Exams