End Your Child's Test Stress

Use these tips from a tutor and education expert to help your kids overcome test anxiety and ace their final exams.


It seems like just yesterday that the start of the school year was upon us, and now spring is here. The birds are chirping, the flowers are blossoming, and everyone wants to be outside. Watch out! Just as the weather is warming up, the heat is rising at school. As standardized tests and final exams approach, students can become overwhelmed with everything they have to accomplish. The feeling that there aren't enough hours in a day is a common side effect of exams and test-related stress.

student taking a practice exam; test stressRecognizing and helping your kids manage this anxiety is important to ensuring optimum performance on test day. Helping your children succeed academically while having fun may not be as challenging as you think. Here are a few stress-managing tips for kids and parents to practice:


Create a goal sheet.

Don't let the idea of putting your pen to the paper daunt you. Create a goal sheet with your kids. By having milestones to meet, your children will have concrete goals. Remember to tell them about everything they have accomplished so far this year. Did they tackle a really hard exam? Get a higher mark in a challenging class? Remind them about their achievements and let them know that they are capable of getting the grades they want if they put their minds to it.


Get your ducks in a row.

Work with your kids to assist them in prioritizing their personal and academic goals. It is important to balance a school and social life with test preparation. Though it may seem like a stressful time, helping your kids stay organized will allow them to meet their goals. Have them set a schedule for studying (that you approve) and make sure they stick with it. I always advise students to own a planner and to have a checklist someplace visible, like on the back of their door.


An apple a day...

Naturally, your children will not perform their best if their bodies are lacking sleep or nutrients. It is incredibly important for them to maintain a healthy lifestyle in the weeks leading up to finals. Make sure they get plenty of sleep and eat a nutritious, well balanced diet. How horrible would it be for them to not perform their best because of lack of sleep or a common cold? It might seem silly to even say this, but remind them to take their vitamins, and be sure to keep their immune system up: It's true what they say, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away!"


Talk to teachers.

Remind your children to ask questions and talk with their teachers. Through all my years as an educator, I have noticed that students do not utilize the resources they have. Students have the option to seek help during after-school hours, and I am amazed that so few of them take the time to stop in with a teacher to ask questions or seek help with a challenging topic. It is so important to utilize their resources. Teachers absolutely love seeing students express interest; it's like candy for them - they eat it right up! Remind your child that it is beneficial to ask questions and seek clarification.


Create mock exam time.

Anticipate the types of questions that will be on an exam by creating a mock test. This might seem like a lot of work for your kids to do, but taking the time to anticipate the questions serves as great practice for them. Have them create a mock test and actually take it in a simulated testing environment. Turn the TV and music off and have them close their computers (with all the technology today, that might seem impossible to do, I realize). If they take their mock test in a quiet space with limited distractions, they can focus their full attention on it.

Finally, if your children feel overwhelmed at any point suggest that they stop, take a deep breath, and remind themselves of all they have accomplished. Their hard work and preparation throughout the school year will definitely pay off on exam day.


Danielle Rayo is the founder and director of Competitive Advantage Tutoring in Manhattan. She holds a dual masters degree in early childhood education and special education from NYU. She received her B.A. from NYU in education and communications.