Grades and Testing / Ages 8-18

5 Ways to Support Your Child With Test Anxiety

If your child is in third grade or above, there’s a good chance they’ll be sitting down for some tests this spring. Here’s how to deal with the test-taking blues.

Whether they’re annual standardized tests or end-of-course exams, tests can feel like A Really Big Deal. While some students don’t mind taking tests at all, for others, they can be a real source of anxiety.

If your child falls in the anxious-tester camp, here are some ways to help them through it:


Put the test in context.

The test might be intended to provide you with information about your child’s progress, or to show their teacher how much material they’ve mastered. Or it might be a test designed to understand how students at their school are doing compared to similar students at other schools. Regardless, at the end of the day, it’s just a test. Remind your child (and yourself) that it’s the learning that matters most, not the test.


Use relaxation techniques.

If your child is struggling to feel calm before a test, feels too anxious to eat or sleep, or is otherwise experiencing disruptive effects of anxiety, relaxation techniques might help. Together, try these simple breathing and visualization exercises designed for kids.


Practice the test process.

Test logistics can sometimes be stressful if your child isn’t used to them. If they’ll be taking a test on the computer, make sure they’ve had a chance to use the device and program in advance. (If you don’t have access to this at home, ask their teacher if they’ll be able to practice in school.) If they’re doing standardized tests on paper, filling in free bubble sheets like these can be helpful practice. For particularly anxious kids, a full test run (pun intended!) can help. Pretend you’re the teacher and have them enter the room, sit down, and take out their materials, just like they’ll do on test day. Use the timer on your phone to help them understand how much time they’ll have, too.


Establish a test-taking routine.

Getting plenty of rest before a test is essential, so aim to push bedtime a little bit earlier for the full week ahead of an important test. Plan a filling breakfast for test day and make sure everyone has plenty of time to get out the door and not feel rushed.


Agree on a reward.

Your child deserves something fun after the hard work of test-taking. Their reward doesn’t have to be anything huge, but decide together in advance so they have something to look forward to—whether it’s a favorite meal, a fun weekend outing, or whatever makes sense for your family.

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