Publication Date: 2003-09-00
Author: Harris, Henry L.; Coy, Doris R
Source: ERIC Counseling and Student Services Clearinghouse
Helping Students Cope with Test Anxiety. ERIC Digest.
Anxiety is a basic human emotion consisting of fear and uncertainty that typically
CHARACTERISTICS OF TEST ANXIETY
Test anxiety is composed of three major components: cognitive, affective, and
Furthermore, they are more likely to overemphasize the potential negative results and feel helpless when in testing situations (Zeidner, 1998). Some students may feel the
From the affective perspective, test anxiety causes some students to experience
Test-anxious students express anxiety behaviorally by procrastinating and having
SUGGESTIONS TO HELP STUDENTS OVERCOME TEST ANXIETY
There are a number of suggestions that school administrators, teachers, school
* attempt to build a strong alliance with parents, students and teachers by explaining to them the importance of testing including potential advantages and disadvantages.
* encourage teachers to teach the curriculum rather than teaching to the test because
* develop school policies on standardized tests that are clear and easily understood.
* consider giving students school-wide practice tests.
* encourage school counselors to address test anxiety with students individually, in
* become aware of students' developmental levels and the pressure they may be
* teach students successful test-taking strategies that include understanding test time
* consider designing some classroom tests using the standardized test format during
* help students understand test ceilings and provide information on whether or not they will be penalized for incorrect responses. If points are deducted for incorrect responses students should be informed to leave items blank (Sycamore & Corey, 1990).
* address test anxiety in class by exploring students' concerns and, if necessary, meet with the school counselor and parents of identified students to confront this issue.
School counselors should:
* collaborate with school officials to identify students experiencing test anxiety.
* conduct classroom guidance topics on test anxiety, test-taking strategies, and effective study skills, and consult with teachers.
* practice different forms of relaxation techniques with students and provide them with the cognitive tools to defeat the negative self-talk they may experience before, during, and after the test.
* offer workshops to parents focusing on ways they may help their children reduce test anxiety.
* meet with students experiencing test anxiety individually or in small groups to address this issue in more detail.
* seek out students who have successfully defeated test anxiety and have them speak or partner with other students to share their experience (Wilkinson, 1990).
* be aware of the developmental levels of students and recognize when test anxiety is out of control, because more serious anxiety-related problems could be present
* make sure their children attend school regularly.
* create and maintain a home environment that will help their children be well rested
* evaluate their children's academic progress over a period of time rather than on one single test score.
* talk with their children and encourage them to do their best.
* be proactive, contact school officials if they have questions concerning tests results
* encourage their children to maintain a healthy diet and exercise on a regular basis.
* consistently develop good sleeping habits, especially during the week of the test, and maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
* avoid cramming, develop good study habits and good test taking skills.
* wear comfortable clothes during the exam and maintain a comfortable and relaxed
* be aware of time allotted for the test, read directions carefully, and for time
* not compare themselves to other students while taking the test.
* take deep breaths and attempt to regain composure when anxiety levels are high or when negative thoughts are present.
Test anxiety is something that impacts students from all ethnic backgrounds and grade levels. Helping students learn to effectively manage such anxiety is a challenging task that requires a genuine team effort. Students, parents, teachers, school counselors, and school administrators must all find ways to be actively involved in reducing test anxiety. We live in a test-taking society and when students are anxious during tests, they are less likely to perform up to their academic potential.
Hembree, R. (1988). Correlates, causes, effects, and treatment of test anxiety. Review of Educational Research, 58, 7-77.
Sarason, I. G. (1988). Anxiety, self-preoccupation, and attention. Anxiety Research, 1, 3-7.
Sarason, I. G., & Sarason, B. R. (1990). Test anxiety. In H. Leitenberg (Eds), Handbook of social and evaluative anxiety (pp 475-496). New York: Plenum Press.
Syncamore, J. E., & Corey, A. L. (1990). Reducing test anxiety. Elementary School Guidance & Counseling, 24, 231-233.
U. S. Department of Education (1993). Help Your Child Improve in Test-Taking.
Wilkinson, C. M. (1990). Techniques for overcoming test anxiety. Elementary School Guidance & Counseling, 24, 234-237.
Zeidner, M. (1990). Does test anxiety bias scholastic aptitude test performance by
Zeidner, M. (1998). Test anxiety: The state of the art. New York: Plenum Press.
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