Test Anxiety

Possible characteristics 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, headaches, etc. 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 immdiately after taking the test

Top 10 teaching strategies to consider:

1. Remind student of available resources:

  • Math, Science, and Writing Help Desks (Learning Center)
  • Checkout of videos and DVDs of math textbooks (Learning Center and LBCC Library)
  • Peer tutors at no charge (Learning Center)
  • Study skills help (Learning Center)
  • The Support Lab (HO-114)
  • Instructor office hours

2. Consider alternative testing formats:

  • Combinations of essay, short answer, and/or multiple-choice
  • Oral tests (perhaps in one-on-one environment with instructor) and/or written tests
  • Longer time limits or no time limits
  • Small-group tests
  • Fragmented tests (completed in small pieces rather than as one large test)

3. Assist students in setting up small study groups to study outside 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 class calendar on the board at each session listing the day's agenda and reminding them of upcoming assignments and tests.
8. Increase student's 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 (not work quality).
10. Consider providing lecture notes and other material online.
11. Suggest that the student take a college success class the following term.