If you’re a parent of a child currently enrolled in primary or secondary school, you may have caught yourself admitting that the pressure and expectations placed on today’s students to succeed is greater than it’s ever been. Not only are curriculums more intensive, it also seems that students are expected to do more independent study, engage in more extracurricular activities and supplement their workload with after-school programs. If this didn’t sound stressful enough, exams can exacerbate a student’s anxiety to whole new levels.
What Causes Test Anxiety?
Test anxiety comes from the expectation that one must do well when measured against their peers or a recognized standard, such as a grading system. In simple terms, the student becomes overwhelmed by thoughts of performing poorly and the potential consequences that their lacklustre performance will have. This immense fear causes the body to release adrenaline, which increases the heart rate, which in turn spurs panic. This article will aim to help you and your child navigate this highly stressful environment by providing advice on not just surviving, but thriving in test season.
Study Early and in Familiar Places
Studying well ahead of a test or exam can significantly help manage stress levels and negate feelings of unpreparedness. Waiting until the night before is not a good time to begin studying. Rather, setting aside some time each day to cover an important topic or the day’s lesson will help your child retain the material much better than pulling an all-night cram session. Choosing a place that’s comfortable — as in familiar, relaxing and with few distractions — is key to absorbing lesson material for an upcoming exam.
Do Homework on a Regular Basis to Boost Test Confidence
Putting off homework and assignments means your child has far less time to become familiar with the material, and will therefore retain less. Since most assignments in some way cover material that will make up an exam, those who complete their homework regularly can expect to fare far better than those who wait until the last minute.
Employ Relaxation Techniques When Feeling Stressed
Relaxation strategies may sound silly, but they’re always worth a try. Remember, if something doesn’t seem to be working, move on to something else. Everyone is different and everyone manages their anxiety differently. Beyond simple breathing exercises and study breaks, here are a few strategies that you might consider taking advantage of to better control anxiety:
- Ensure your child or teenager is getting enough sleep, eating regularly and staying hydrated throughout the day. All of these can directly influence anxiety levels.
- Ensure they get to class early to avoid unnecessary stress by being late.
- Encourage them to exercise every day. Exercise is known to release anxiety and tension.
- Help them to remain focused on the task at hand. However, make sure they take a break when you can see the pressure getting the best of them.
Keep It in Perspective
These techniques are simply guidelines to better living. School can be scary. The way in which your child approaches their studies directly correlates to their performance. While studying is important, so is finding ways to reduce the stress during tests and exams. If some of the common methods and recommendations mentioned above don’t quite hit the mark for your child, it may be time to consult with a certified tutoring service. Getting a subject matter expert may be exactly what’s needed to help boost confidence and reduce stress and anxiety.