Test Anxiety

You might see the student display:

  • Remarks such as "I can't do it" or "I'll never get it" or "I'm stupid" or "I always fail".
  • Crying or expressions of anger/rage before, during, or after tests.
  • Physical reactions such as sweating, dry mouth, cold hands, dizzy spells, stomach aches, or headaches prior to or during tests.
  • "Going blank" on tests, staring off into space during tests, not answering relatively easy questions, and/or quickly leaving the test environment.
  • Few or no attempts at trial-and-error or other problem-solving approaches.
  • Fidgeting during tests.
  • Knowing the answers immediately after taking the test.

Top Strategies to Consider:

  1. Remind student of available resources:
    1. Math, Science, and Writing Help Desks (Learning Center).
    2. Checkout of videos and DVDs of math textbooks (Learning Center and LBCC Library).
    3. Peer tutors at no charge (Learning Center).
    4. Study skills help (Learning Center).
    5. The Support Lab (RCH 114).
    6. Instructor office hours.
  2. Consider alternative testing formats:
    1. Combinations of essay, short answer, and/or multiple-choice.
    2. Oral tests (perhaps in an one-on-one environment with instructor) and/or written tests.
    3. Longer time limits or no time limits.
    4. Small-group tests.
    5. Fragmented tests (completed in small pieces rather than as one large test).
  3. Assist students in setting up small study groups to study outside of class.
  4. Consider incorporating test-taking and study skills as part of your class presentation and/or activities.
  5. Allow students to discuss their fears with you without discounting their feelings.
  6. Consider providing a less distracting environment for the student to test.
  7. Write the class calendar on the board each session, listing the day's agenda and reminding them of upcoming assignments and tests.
  8. Increase students' ability to tolerate frustration by shortening initial assignments but gradually increasing schoolwork.
  9. Include small assignments that are pleasurable and add points based on completion as opposed to work quality.
  10. Consider providing lecture notes and other materials online.
  11. Suggest that the student take a college success class the following term.