Exams and tests can be a cause of anxiety for almost every child. However, if this situation creates a state of anxiety that will affect answering the questions in the exam, prevent reflecting what you know in the exam, and reduce the success of the exam, it can be mentioned about test anxiety.

Test anxiety 

Exams and tests can be a cause of anxiety for almost every child. However, if this situation creates a state of anxiety that will affect answering the questions in the exam, prevent reflecting what you know in the exam, and reduce the success of the exam, it can be mentioned about test anxiety. Test anxiety can be easily combated by taking some simple precautions. In cases where these measures are not sufficient, it is useful to get support from a specialist.

Test anxiety is more common in perfectionist and competitive people. Children with unrealistic mindsets are at greater risk. On the other hand, the expectation of parents from the child, the meaning they attribute to the exam, and their oppressive approach also increase exam anxiety.

What causes test anxiety? 

Every exam is a source of anxiety for exam takers. Sometimes this anxiety and stress can prepare better for the exam and affect the success of the exam. However, sometimes it can cause the exam to become more difficult, not being able to answer even simple and known questions, and a decrease in exam success.

Possible underlying factors for test anxiety may include:

  • Difficulty of the exam for the person,
  • Not being prepared enough for the exam
  • The importance of the exam in one’s life,
  • The effect of the exam on future planning,
  • The meaning ascribed to the exam,
  • The image that the exam creates in the mind of the person,
  • Parents’ point of view,

Symptoms of test anxiety: 

  • He is very worried and uneasy before the exam,
  • It can be noticed from the outside that he is in a panic mood,
  • He suddenly forgets what he has studied until the exam, cannot remember,
  • There is a decrease in the desire to study during the exam preparation period,
  • There is a fear of failure,
  • Difficulty concentrating on the exam
  • Feels headache,
  • There may be nausea,
  • There may be sweating,
  • Sleep problems develop before the exam,
  • May give unnecessary reactions to those around him,
  • Has appetite problems, is uninterested in food or eats more than usual
  • Doesn’t enjoy the event or activity that he/she likes before,
  • Worries about the future,
  • An introverted, negative mood develops,
  • Avoids talking about the exam
  • Gets angry with questions about the exam,
  • Remembers the answers to the questions after the exam,
  • Exam success drops.
  • It makes the homework and projects of the exam course better.

A child who is preparing for the exam may express that he is not ready for the exam, that he cannot understand the lesson, that the lesson is unnecessary, that the lesson is heavy, that the exam will pass badly and that he will fail.

What can be done to combat test anxiety? 

In order to combat test anxiety, first of all, the meaning attributed to the test must be clarified, family support, and some habits must be corrected.

  • Improving quality of life:
    • Nutritional habits: Do not neglect to eat. Avoid unhealthy foods and drinks such as cola, chips, hamburger, chocolate. Explain the harms of energy drinks. If necessary, consult a specialist and use vitamin and mineral supplements. Organize meal times. Provide a fruit and vegetable-based diet in meals. Do not eat late at night. Suggest to consume plenty of liquid food. Prepare healthy snacks to consume while studying. During the exam, you can drink light sugary drinks that will prevent blood sugar from falling. It is important not to enter the exam hungry or thirsty.
    • Sleep pattern: Do not neglect the sleep pattern. Irregular sleep causes mental fatigue. Make sure he doesn’t go to bed too late. Children and teens need 8-10 hours of sleep a day. Suggesting that he sleep during the night before the exam instead of reviewing the topics will increase his success.
    • Exercise: Regular exercise also helps the child to stay mentally fit.
    • Relaxing: Get him to do activities he likes. Get him to get the thought of the exam out of his mind. Let him reward himself.
  • Developing a working strategy:
    • Effective study: It is necessary to study systematically about exam subjects. It is useful to learn the tactics of solving questions in exams by school or from different places. Strategies for exam questions will relax the child.
    • Time planning: Leaving studying for exams to the last moment and especially the last night will increase the stress level considerably. Starting a planned and scheduled study a while before the exam date will reduce anxiety and stress.
    • Preparation exams: Preparatory exams of the same quality, especially before major exams that will affect future decisions, will be beneficial in terms of adaptation to the exam environment and planning the exam period. On the other hand, it enables the determination of areas that are not studied adequately for the exam.
    • Relaxation techniques: If situations such as difficult questions, distraction, and stress develop during the exam, a few relaxation techniques should be developed. These should be techniques such as deep breathing, moving the hands or arms, closing the eyes for a few seconds, that do not take away from the exam time, do not affect the course of the exam, and will not disturb the other participants in the exam.
    • Postponement: Questions that are difficult to solve during the exam should be abandoned. Answering easy-to-solve, well-known questions not only helps to use time effectively, but also gives the child self-confidence. Returning to the left questions after the other questions are finished also speeds up the answer.
    • Collaboration: Studying with a well-working friend can increase motivation. It provides the opportunity to share the subjects that cannot be understood while studying.

Suggestions for families: 

  • Inform your child about the exam, explain the importance of the exam appropriately.
  • Do not subject your child to tests above the intelligence level.
  • Do not pressure your child.
  • Do not attach too much meaning to the exams. Explain that exams are not a matter of life and death, there may be other alternatives.
  • Keep track of your child’s eating and sleeping patterns.
  • Be tolerant of daily activities and responsibilities on the day your exam child leaves his bed messy.
  • Give your child the opportunity to relax, reward him from time to time.
  • Give rewards based on exam results. Explain this before the exam.
  • Support your children with school teachers. Sharing worries with someone helps reduce anxiety.
  • If your child’s test anxiety does not go away, seek expert support.