STRATEGIES HELPING KIDS AND PARENTS DEAL WITH TEST ANXIETY

January 20, 2018

 

If your student is gearing up to take the SSAT, ISEE or HSPT, you know just how stressed-out your child is. After all, between school, homework, extracurricular and other responsibilities, adding test prep practice on top of that load can make your child feel as though they're about to break.

 

Before you start to panic, let's boil this down to its essentials: the SSAT and ISEE tests are not the be-all end-all of your child's admission into a private or independent school. The admissions team at any school will approach your child's application with a more comprehensive view in mind. They'll look at your child's grades, activities, writing sample and overall abilities before taking the entrance exam into consideration. If anything, the Independent School Entrance Exam is just a confirmation of your child's unique abilities and special talents.

 

It is pretty common for students to get anxious about exams due to the immense competition for a limited number of acceptances into private schools. But some students get so anxious that they fail to work normally, get patchy sleep, short temper or irritability, comfort eating or poor appetite, and butterflies in the stomach. All these things affect their performance on exam negatively.   

 

Here are some suggestions on ways to deal with anxiety.

 

  • Separating academic performance from your students perception of himself or herself is critical.  Failing a test doesn't mean your student is a failure.  Succeeding in a test doesn't mean your student is an all-star.  Rather the SSAT and ISEE testing performance has more to do with a student's executive functioning abilities.  Neurological research has proven that these skills are not normally developed until their late teens.  We test our students too early in life, but given this is a reality it is important to define the meaning of these tests appropriately, before results are in. 

  • Finding somebody to talk to you and your student can actually be helpful. Support from tutors, teachers, other parents or study buddies can help students share their worries while keeping things in perspective. So, if you find that your kid is facing exam anxiety, talk to your tutors or the teachers at school immediately.

  • Having good sleep is important to improve concentration and thinking. Students need at least 8-10 hours sleep a day. So, allow your kids to wind down at least 30 minutes or so to help them to get good night sleep. Cramming all the night before exams is a completely bad idea. Having a good sleep will benefit your student a lot more than several hours of panicky last-minute studies.

  • Having a balanced diet is highly important for maintaining the kid’s health and this also helps them to feel great during the exam time. In some cases, parents choose to feed their kids or teenagers different types of high sugar, high fat and high caffeine food items and drinks like chocolate, sweets, chips, burgers, cola etc., which make them irritable, hyperactive and moody.

  • Get tutoring help at least 6 months before the test. The SSAT and ISEE test what has been learned over years in school.  Help students plan out a curriculum review schedule or ask your tutor or school for one.

  • It is also necessary for parents to be flexible during exam time. So, while your student is studying all day, don't ask him or her to clean the untidy bedroom or to do the household jobs, which are left undone. Rather stay calm and encourage your kid to study or relax.

  • Encourage exercise while prepping for the exam to make sure that your kid remains active. Regular exercise helps to boost energy levels, relieves stress and clears the mind.

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