How to Calmly and Confidently Prepare for Tests
Updated: Aug 4, 2021
As the school year gets started in full swing, test taking stress can take its toll. While a student may be prepared with knowing their study guides and flashcards completely, I often hear from parents and students that the idea of the test itself causes feelings of anxiety. More than the test questions itself, worrying about the test can cause the greatest stumbling blocks for students, especially when standardized tests are involved. So, here are some strategies I recommend to help your child focus on doing their very best, with peace of mind.
Day(s) before, have your child:
1. Sleep! Get a good night's rest, especially two days before the test. Eight hours a night is ideal.
2. Exercise: Play sports, go for a nice walk or hike, have a dance party in your living room or run around the block
3. Eat Brain Food: Pick out the breakfast and snacks your child wants for test day the day before so you can have it at the house (I recommend eggs, fruit, trail mix)
4. Dress for success have your child pick out a comfortable outfit for taking the test so it's ready (soft clothing/the right sweatshirt in case it’s cold in the room, etc.)
5. See clearly: does your child wear contacts? If so, maybe bring extra pair of glasses or eye drops just in case too as a back up.
6. Pack a few "Just in case items": tissues, Chapstick, sharpened pencils, erasers, pens, calculator (I forgot my calculator the first time I took the SATs--which was devastating at the time--but I survived to tell the tale and to learn from my mistakes!)
7. Practice mindfulness 5-10 minutes and regulate breathing: https://www.mindful.org/mindfulness-how-to-do-it/
8. Talk to someone! Having meaningful and pleasant conversations with family and friends helps decrease or anxiety by releasing oxytocin.
Day of, it's important for your child to:
1. Get to school early
2. Eat a healthy breakfast (avoid too much sugar)
3. NOT rush during the test. Read the directions carefully (underline main points) and go step by step.
Finally, for Parents- you play an important role! Your words matter. Remind your children to take slow deep breaths and to just try their best. When your child comes home, celebrate his success for taking the test! Ask your child what worked and what didn’t and write it down to remind yourself for next time. Remember, it's normal and helpful for your child to feel a little nervous. The increased excitement caused by the adrenaline hormone is a natural way for your children to have energy and for their drive to success. At the same time, if you notice some unhealthy thoughts or behaviors getting in the way, it may be time to seek additional support for your child.