Seven Ways to Help Students Reduce Anxiety and Improve Test Scores
By Frank Milner, Tutor Doctor President
Test taking can be stressful for both students and parents. Most everyone is familiar with the butterflies that flutter up inside your stomach before taking a test. While it is normal for most students to experience some level of jitters before and during an exam, it has proven to become a problem for some, affecting their scores so much that they no longer are an indication of the student’s true ability. We at Tutor Doctor aim to squash anxiety and help local students boost their grades.
There are many techniques that students can use to improve concentration and ease their nerves. Every student is different, which is why we use a one-on-one, in-home method in our tutoring model, but these are a few tips and tricks to get students started on boosting their marks in school.
The morning of the test surprise your child with their own customized “first aid” test anxiety busting kit. This is a perfect way to start the day and show your kids that although you can’t be there with them while they take the test; you are with them in spirit. It is a simple gesture that goes a long way towards comforting them.
I like to pack the kit into a colorful bag or box and even label it with the student’s name. Inside the kit is a notebook (Moleskine notebooks work great), a healthy snack (something small and tasty such as an apple or banana), and a small bottle of aromatherapy oil (I recommend lavender).
1) Write Down Anxieties Before A Test- A recent study in the journal Science explains that students can greatly benefit from writing their anxieties before taking an exam. The study suggests that releasing anxieties onto paper will clear students’ minds during a test and allow them to focus better.
2) Counter Apprehensions By Writing Down Positive Responses- In a guide on how to reduce dread before taking tests, Claire Stone, MFT and Berkeley therapist, explains that it is beneficial to write positive responses to the negative anxieties or thoughts that students just wrote. This will ensure that all the negatives will be cleared from students’ minds while taking a test.
The healthy snack is in the kit to remind your child not to take their test on an empty stomach and leads to the next three tips.
3) Maintain A Healthy Diet- There is a correlation between positive test scores and a healthy diet. Students should be sure not to take an exam on an empty stomach, and that they are eating the right foods. Joe Landsberger, author of the Study Guides and Strategies Web site, offers fruit and vegetables as a recommended option to reduce stress. Avoid processed foods, artificial sweeteners and foods containing preservatives, as they are considered “stressful foods.”
4) Stay Physically Fit- According to Lesley Cottrell, an associate professor of pediatrics at West Virginia University, children’s physical fitness is associated with their academic performance. Students who stay physically fit during the week generally experience better test scores.
5) Get Enough Sleep- Many students struggle to get adequate sleep at night, but it is important that they try to get between seven and nine hours. According to psychologist John Markovich, “Sleep keeps students well-rested. It gives them a good attention span, along with a more stable mood, which increases concentration.” Getting enough sleep at night will help students focus while taking tests.
The sixth tip ties into the reason for the aromatherapy bottle. Your son or daughter can sniff the oil before taking the test to activate their memory and approach the test from a calmer perspective.
6) Aromatherapy- It has been proven that essential oils such as lavender and rosemary can stimulate the brain and improve concentration and learning abilities. Students can use this method by lighting a lavender candle while studying, helping them retain information easier before the test.
Preparation for tests should be a group effort. A student’s parents, teachers and tutors should all work together to set the student up for success. One fun way is to encourage them invite a friend over to the home to study together.
7) Study With a Friend- When possible, students should study with a friend or parent. This helps students understand the material better and learn from one another.
Hopefully these tips will get you and your child on the path to better results in test taking. If your student needs a “check up” you can contact us at 1.877.988.8679 or visit www.tutordoctor.com.