5 Ways to Beat Testing Season Worries

5 Ways to Beat Testing Season Worries

Laura Zamrok

For many, we enjoy the four seasons of Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall.  But as educators, there is the fifth season.  As the last bit of snow melts and we look forward to spring, we inevitably look forward to “testing season”.  Standardized testing and testing prep ramps up just after every new year.  Administrators  encourage  daily or weekly integration of test items into instruction and teachers review their lessons and units on how to best prepare their students,  all knowing that the  rest of the curriculum  needs to be delivered.  This can be a time of concern for test takers and test givers.

Helping staff and students manage stress during this time not only relieves feelings of anxiousness and worry, it can promote better success in their test taking skills and ultimately their outcomes.  Schools should consider promoting the following stress relieving techniques for their students and staff:  

  1. Family Time:  Encourage families to spend time with their children and incorporate healthy habits such as a good night’s sleep, a well balanced breakfast and drinking plenty of water.  These habits coupled with together-time in a family not only allow students and staff to be physically ready for standardized testing but also help to reduce test-taking fatigue and improve cognitive functioning.  It also stresses the importance of the family as an important component in the partnership between home and school.
  2. Mindfulness Activities:  Consider incorporating mindfulness activities into the classroom when preparing for standardized tests.  Add breathing exercises into the start of each test prep session and be mindful that these exercises can improve their focus as they start the tests with calmness.  Explicitly stating that the activities can promote a calm feeling helps students with confidence and grit to persevere during the tests.
  3. Talk and Talk Some More:  Provide a supportive environment for students and staff to express their concerns about the test.  Normalizing a bit of test anxiety helps us to feel like we are not alone.  Offering encouragement and an outlet to share their feelings is important for students to realize that they are worthy in many ways, not just academically.  The same holds true for the adults in the school.  Remind students and staff to seek help with explicit suggestions (school counselor, parents, trusted teacher) as needed.  Consider inviting the counselor into the classrooms to discuss test taking worries.
  4. Add Physical Activity to Instruction:  Use class time to take short breaks to stretch, walk or play sports.  Regular physical activity is proven to reduce stress, improve mood and allow students and staff to be ready for the test.
  5. Options for Stress Relief:  Teach activities for students to use as needed and then have those activities readily available and acceptable to use during class time.  Calming music, journaling, art therapy and brain breaks are just a few options for students to have in their toolbox when testing season arrives.

Implementing these activities and strategies help test takers ease their anxiety about the test and promotes academic and emotional resilience all leading to academic success and a positive learning experience.

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