A big stressor in many teens’ lives is taking tests. Since I live at a middle school, I hear teens claim they are bad test takers and they are going to fail ALL the time. If teens spend the morning worrying about failing a test, then the stress is going to be higher when that test is put in front of them. Even teens who do really well in school are not immune to test taking stress. They have the pressure to continue to perform at a high level, so even if they always do well, they still stress about missing the mark and disappointing someone.
While a certain level of stress is helpful to motivate your teen to put in the extra effort to study and prepare for the upcoming test, if it throws them into The Chronic Stress Loop then it is likely hindering their success. When your teen is stressed, there is less blood flow to the creative problem solving part of their brain, so they are literally making the test harder for themselves by stressing out about it. That’s why I am sharing two strategies to help your teen calm their stress, so that they can perform their best and experience more success.
In the Moment Strategy for Managing Stress About Taking Tests
If your teen repeats positive mantras, then when the test is put in front of them, they are calm and can more easily remember the information that they need to experience more success.
In and Out Mantras
- Help your teen choose a positive affirmation to repeat and a negative emotion to release.
- Slowly inhale and silently say their positive affirmation.
- Slowly exhale and release their negative emotion.
- I prepared for this test, and I totally got this.
- I know this material, and I am going to ace this test.
- I studied, and I will do well on this test.
- I release my fear of failing.
- I release the pressure to be perfect.
- I release this stress.
As your teen walks between classes, encourage them to repeat their positive affirmation. It is helpful to say them in a rhythmic pattern as they step.
Left Foot: I
Right Foot: pre
Left Foot: pared
Right Foot: for
Left Foot: this
Right Foot: test
Left Foot: and
Right Foot: I
Left Foot: to
Right Foot: tal
Left Foot: ly
Right Foot: got
Left Foot: this
Creating Study Habits for Decreasing Stress Around Taking Tests
There are also numerous study habits that help teens succeed in school. I have had many teens tell me that they studied really hard by reading the material. While some students can retain information this way, the majority can not.
- A very effective study habit is making flash cards. Flashcards ensure that your teen knows the information because they are unable to see the answer while looking at the question or topic. It also allows your teen to study a smaller section of ideas until they begin to commit the ideas to memory.
- start with only 5 Flashcards
- continue studying those five until you get one right
- then put the memorized card into the know pile
- add one card from the need to learn pile so that you once again are studying five cards
- once all the cards are in the know pile, shuffle them and study all the cards at once
- Quizlet is an online flashcard program that I highly recommend. Quizlet gives your teen the ability to quiz themselves in many different formats as well as take practice quizzes. As an added bonus, your teen can’t lose the flashcards.
- Study in 30, or whatever time frame works well for your teen, minute chunks. By breaking the studying up, it helps your teen process and retain the information better.
- Bring those last few facts that they are still struggling to commit to memory and study them right before they take the test. This way those facts are fresh in their mind.
Confirming that your teen is utilizing good study practices will help reduce the stress around feeling prepared for a test.
While preparing well for tests and taming the pretest stress will help many teens experience more success, for some teens, it is just not enough. Taking tests throws them into the Chronic Stress Loop, and they need a bit more guidance and support to calm the stress. If this sounds like your teen, grab a copy of my FREE Stress Less Guide and learn my top five stress reducing strategies to help your teen be more ease on tests days and experience more success.
Originally published at www.claireketchum.com