Helping kids beat exam anxiety

Exams and quizzes are intricate parts of the education system, but they can also become sources of serious anxiety for kids.

Although it is normal for anyone to feel a bit anxious before an important test, if you sense that your child’s level of stress is far beyond what can be classified as “normal” exam anxiety, it is probably time for an intervention.

exam anxietyWhat defines “normal” pre-exam anxiety?

There are no methods to measure stress and anxiety with mathematical precision, which is why there are no concrete parameters that can define normal or abnormal pre-test anxiety. However, psychiatrists have identified several signs and symptoms that are exhibited by students when their stress levels have reached a point where parents need to intervene. Check out the usual symptoms of serious pre-test stress and anxiety next:

  • Headache, fever, stomach cramps and loss of appetite/excessive eating before exams
  • Insomnia, irritability and light-medium level depression
  • Negativity, GAD personality traits, and/or vocal expressions of hopelessness made particularly evident prior to exams.

If your kid is not suffering from any of the usual signs of anxiety we just discussed, it likely means that their anxiety levels are within normal limits.

How should you intervene?

If any signs of extreme stress are exhibited by a student before exams, intervention from teachers and especially from parents is necessary. Depending on the situation’s particulars, taking a multi-step approach is usually ideal for helping kids beat examinophobia. We will be taking a quick look through some of those steps next.

Help them sleep

It is a scientifically proven fact that restful sleep is an excellent stress reliever, irrespective of one’s age. Middle-schoolers and teenagers need roughly 8-9 hours of sleep every day to function at full capacity during their waking hours. Unfortunately, simply telling a high-strung, tensed student to sleep peacefully for 10-hours is not a practical solution.

It’s true that they need the sleep and most certainly can benefit from it, but telling them something so obvious is probably not going to work, unless we are discussing very young children. Instead, try talking to them about the stress they are feeling, right before bedtime. Letting it all out helps people feel lighter, and if you allow them to talk as much as they want before bedtime, they are far more likely to listen to your advice too.

Help them prepare

It is not uncommon to see even talented and usually relaxed students tense up when the examination in question holds immense importance in respect to their future. Anxiety cannot help because stress will only lower your child’s ability to prepare or perform during the exam, but when they are feeling ill-prepared for the upcoming exams, anxiety is almost inevitable.

The only way to avoid feeling unprepared for any important examination is to practice till that feeling fades away. That practice, however, must be properly directed, expertly analysed and gradually improved with preciseness, if he/she has to feel confident about performing well in important examinations such as the ISEB PRETEST, CEM SELECT, CAT, UKiset, etc. Sites like Pretest Plus can help your child by providing a platform that has been designed to do exactly that, and more. They analyse each student’s performances continuously, while also working towards improving their future scoresheets after each mock test, by providing them with explanations on every right answer in detail.

It should be mentioned that an aggressive approach cannot help anxious students, which is why conflicts should be avoided as best as possible. For example, if you attempt to make a teenager go to bed by force and he/she gets into a conflict with you, that will only add more stress to their already anxious minds. Most importantly, nobody has been known to sleep well right after a heated argument, which defeats the entire purpose.