FORUM – Minimize trauma of tests for your student

Posted by | Mar 1, 2014

Newmarket Era

Published on: Feb 24, 2014

Most children experience some kind of stress when it comes to writing quizzes or exams.

Even many years after their high school and university careers are behind them, adults report dreaming about failing tests or missing classes when they are feeling under pressure.

While anxiety is normal and can help keep us focused and alert, it should not become debilitating or persistent.

Yet many students, especially those with challenges, such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, slow processing speed or ADHD, often experience acute fear of failure, unrealistic expectations related to school performance or a paralyzing fear brought on by negative testing experiences, compounding the challenges of exam writing.

As a parent, there are many things you can do to mitigate the situation.

Help your student view tests in a positive light. Make sure she is well prepared for the test and sees it as an opportunity to demonstrate her mastery of the subject.

If she has an individual education plan, ensure the teacher is aware of any accommodations she should receive and confirm these will be in place at the time of the test.

Help her review the material, answer practice questions, engage in self-quizzing, and “teach” you what she knows.

A student who can explain a problem or topic to a parent will feel more confident going into a test. Use audio and video content to help reinforce important information for students who have difficulty reading.

Take time to review test-taking strategies that she can use to help reduce anxiety, such as budgeting time, skipping questions that draw a blank, answering the questions they know well to trigger related information, deep breathing, carefully reviewing instructions and proofreading answers before finishing the test.

On the day of the test, minimize external distractions by making sure your child is well rested, well fed, has all of the necessary supplies and is wearing comfortable clothes.

After each test, review the outcome carefully to help them address areas of improvement and understand what they did well.

Finally, be sure to celebrate her successes. Make her a special treat, give her an unusual privilege or make sure she catches you bragging about her progress to a friend.

It’s fun, it reinforces her sense of achievement and it builds important self-confidence.

Denise Harding is the owner of Evoke Learning, an academic coaching and consulting service for exceptional students and their families. Visit