6 Ways To Ease Your Students' Test Anxiety

Do you have students who display signs of anxiety during testing season? Whether you're stuck administering the PARCC test, the STAR test, or some other standardized test, the anxiety that comes along with testing is very real for some students.

If you work hard to build students' confidence and a healthy classroom community, you already know that that anxiety can be very damaging. Here are 6 tips to help off-set some of that negativity.

6 Ways To Ease Your Students' Test Anxiety by A Word On Third

1. Meditate.

You might be thinking, who has time for that weird, fluffy stuff? First of all, it's not all fluff at all; meditation is scientifically proven to have so many benefits. Second, we need to make time if it means our students will feel better. Meditation will help your students clear their minds.

A meditation might only be 1 or 2 minutes long for students at an elementary age. It doesn't have to take long. You can search YouTube for pre-exam meditations, kid-friendly meditations, or a 1 minute meditation that's not specific to kids or testing at all. Try this one with your class.

2. Be honest.

What is the test really about for you? In my state, standardized testing is really about evaluating the teacher. It has no bearing on my students and their future class placement. If your situation is similar, you might tell the kids just that. 

Each year, I tell my kids that the test is meant to measure how well I've taught and how much they learned. I tell them that they can get a 0% or 100% and neither score will impact them positively or negatively. They'll be in the same class no matter what their scores are, and they won't miss out on any opportunities due to a low score. All they need to do is try their best; they're already prepared.

It also helps to remind the test that it doesn't measure them as an entire person. A test can't measure how friendly, artistic, creative, or hardworking you are. It just measures how you can show what you know on that particular day.

3. Model being calm.

This one is probably a no-brainer, but it's important enough to mention. If the test stresses you out, your kids will be stressed out too. If it's hard for you to not be frazzled by the test, then model other self-care and calming techniques for your students. If you ooze peacefulness, your students will pick up on that. Try to hide your own anxiety about the test if you have any.

4. Celebrate.

There are so many ways to celebrate taking the test, and doing this boosts your classroom's morale. I saw this adorable idea on Instagram and decided to follow suit. I grabbed some light-colored pants and had my kids sign them; now on testing days, I wear my "smarty pants." It makes my kids smile and relax, and since I administer the test, I walk around in my smarty pants which is comforting to them during the test.

While I do not believe in giving kids prizes for behaving well, I do think it's nice to share a few treats every now and then for no reason other than to celebrate! I've been giving my kids a small treat (pencils, erasers, etc.) every morning of standardized testing, just like @thirdgradegoals on IG!

A post shared by Marla Savage (@awordonthird) on

5. Use positive affirmations.

Have your kids say a password to enter or exit the room. The trick here is to make the password a positive affirmation. During testing this week, our class password was, "I can do difficult things." Click here or on the picture below to learn more about using a password in class.

6. Communicate with parents.

Tell the parents what they need to know about the test (see point number 2 on this post). What are they responsible for and what are you responsible for when it comes to testing? I tell my parents the best way to help their child is not to study or cram for the test; instead it's to get their child to bed early and help them to eat a nutritious breakfast.

Parents often get stressed about their child's performance on the test because they worry about how it will impact their child. That's why it's so important for you to model being calm to your students and their families!

Good luck with testing, guys!! On a separate note, did you download the free growth mindset learning progression I shared with you last week yet? If not, what are you waiting for?! Click here or on the picture below to grab it! 

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