Testing Anxiety Can Greatly Impact Students’ Test Prep – Here’s How to Tackle It
While it’s common for students to feel nervous before an exam, there are some students who experience a heightened sense of nervous feelings known as anxiety. Too much anxiety, when in correlation to an examination, is known as “testing anxiety.” It is possible for testing anxiety to lead to testing difficulties since it can inhibit students from performing to the best of their abilities depending on how it manifests. So what can students do to minimize the impact that testing anxiety has on their test-day performance?
Testing anxiety manifestations can be different for each student, but it is not uncommon for an individual to have physical, emotional, behavioral or cognitive side effects from this form of anxiety. A student may experience one or many of these indicators such as having excessive feelings of fear (emotional), while simultaneously experiencing negative self-talk (cognitive), and possibly shortness of breath (physical). Even amongst siblings’ anxiety can look differently, so it’s important to work with a school counselor or psychologist to diagnose testing anxiety.
I Have Testing Anxiety, Now What?
Don’t panic! Testing anxiety does not inhibit a student from performing well on standardized tests. The key to tackling anxiety is to prepare the student for what they should expect on test day, specifically starting with mastering the content of the exam. First, students should take a diagnostic of both the SAT and ACT to determine which test is the best fit for them.
When a test has been chosen, it’s important to share those results with your tutor to set up a testing plan. For students with testing anxiety, it is especially important to have a structured plan in place as it gives the student a feeling of being in control of their test preparation. For students with anxiety, they may feel as though not many things are under their control during the college application process, so this empowers them to have structure and confidence in their preparation.
Tutoring Online: Benefits for Students with Testing Anxiety
When preparing a student with testing anxiety for a standardized test, we’ve found utilizing online tutoring sessions to be extremely beneficial. Especially for students exhibiting physical (headaches) or emotional (depression) manifestations, having tutoring in the comfort of their own home can assist with building confidence when preparing. Utilizing a web platform, a student has the choice to share their camera to connect with a tutor or simply shut it off.
Working with a web-based interface also allows a student to see the tutor and work with them without having to meet in person. Sometimes a student can feel self-conscious to the point where they are afraid to make mistakes in front of another person. Utilizing a platform such as Zoom, the tutor is able to display their face even if a student does not want to show their own. While this may seem like a small thing, it empowers the student to be in control of their tutoring sessions and build confidence in their tutoring within the comfort of their own homes.
Circling back to the confidence piece, it’s important to build assurance with a student while still being able to address areas that need improvement. Implementing Growth Mindset in sessions for students with testing anxiety is important, since it fosters a safe space to address mistakes that students have made, but reframing blunders as opportunities to improve with hard work.
With tablets, computers and phones being the crux of communication for this generation, they are most comfortable interacting with others through these platforms. Since a student is able to have the comfort of their device, while still experiencing face-to-face interaction, it gives them the security to make mistakes and the ability to ask for assistance from a tutor.
It is important to give students with testing anxiety the opportunity to take practice tests under simulated test settings – a form of “exposure therapy.” Having students practice taking the test under test-like conditions evokes the student’s anxiety in a manageable way that gradually permits the student to lessen it over time with additional practice tests. It also simulates the test-day experience, helping students to better know what to expect and practice taking-taking and relaxation strategies that can help curb anxiety.
Taking practice tests regularly is something that we encourage for all of our students, since it helps establish consistent baselines for improvement and allows the tutor and student to enhance their tutoring sessions to meet the ever-changing needs of the student.
Ultimately, it’s important to acknowledge that testing anxiety can be manifested in many ways, and these can be addressed in your test prep programs. Online tutoring is a way for students to experience the face-to-face tutoring, while granting them the comfort of being at home and control of their program. While sometimes students feel uncomfortable making mistakes and asking for help, the confidence of being behind a screen and having the option to turn their video camera off, gives students with test anxiety the confidence to address areas of improvement or confusion with their tutor.
The incorporation of practice tests is important to not only simulate the testing experience to lessen the anxiety, but also to address the pacing issues and questions that the student needs improvement on.
At IvyWise, we work with students to not only help them prepare for the SAT or ACT, but also manage any anxiety that might impact their performance on test day. Contact us today for more information on our test prep services and to learn how IvyWise tutors can help you reach your goal score on the SAT or ACT!