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Managing Standardized Test Stress


Managing Standardized Test Stress

4. Address catastrophic thinking quickly. Because so much emphasis is put on the importance of standardized tests by parents, teachers, admission officers, etc., kids may be led to believe that a less than perfect performance will mean a future filled with gloom and doom. Make sure your child knows that one test cannot and will not determine the rest of his life. Help him strike a balance between preparing properly (if possible) and ignoring the inevitable (that they will have to take the test).


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5. Pre-plan the night before the test. A healthy meal and a good sleep is the best prep for any important event such as taking a standardized test.

6. Discourage last minute studying or cramming; it is likely to lead to distress and panic. It's important to emphasize that there comes a time when she has to acknowledge that she has done all she can do to prepare. It is at this point that books should be closed, and it is time to take a leap of faith.


7. Mindfulness matters. If your child has a tendency to become disorganized or unfocused when overwhelmed by stress, work with him to develop skills which will help him stay in the moment. One method to help him keep calm is to choose a color and find three things in the room the same color. This quick exercise can help bring his focus back to the test room and calm him down. Taking a few deep breaths can also help him feel calmer. Practice these techniques prior to test time. By identifying the coping skills that work best for your child, he can develop this skill set before he takes the test.

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8. Create a 911 plan in case she panics. As mentioned above, remaining mindful is an essential test taking skill. If your child is prone to panic, help her prepare for disaster by developing a plan. Deep breathing works well for many people. Other techniques such as visualizing a favorite place can also quell anxiety and stress. Encourage your child to practice these techniques well before the test. Advise her to write down a list of techniques that work on an index card she can literally keep in her back pocket. Simply knowing that she is carrying her coping skills with her can be comforting enough to keep her calm and focused.

9. What’s done is done. If your child tends to perseverate on how he did after he takes a test, reassure him that it will all work out in the end. Focusing on would of, could of, and should of is far from productive. Encourage him to try and let it go. Why waste energy worrying about the outcome? Now is the time to relax and forget about the experience for a while. When the outcome is available, his results will dictate his next move. Until then, there is nothing he can do except try not to think about it. Of course this is often a task that is easier said then done. Step in and offer support and act as his cheerleader. Help him focus on the things in his life he can impact or control such as grades, or improving his skill at a sport or activity he enjoys.


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