How Do You Help Students Cope with Test Anxiety? 10 Effective Tips

All students can relate to “test anxiety” or the fear of examinations. They try to overcome it but sometimes the struggle can push them toward depression. Since this issue hinders their scholastic achievement, you have to enter into the scene. So as a teacher, how do you help students cope with test anxiety?

drawing of a girl taking an exam

Fear of tests among students is a common obstacle but has to be dealt with before it becomes a problem. Spotting the cause and resolving the issue helps a student conquer the agitation.

Some of the most common causes of test anxiety are:

  1. Low self-esteem or an underlying anxiety problem.
  2. Poor study habits or preparation time
  3. Fear getting the lowest score and getting embarrassed
  4. Fear of letting down the parents or teacher
  5. Has a very high bar for himself or herself


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How Do You Help Students Cope with Test Anxiety?

Boy, Book, Reading, Literature, Read

1) Prepare their minds before the scheduled test

Prioritize preparing beforehand by giving the class some sort of a review, light quizzes, questions and answers, and discussions. Add fun to the activities. The pointers can help alleviate fear. Plus, the preparation gives students plenty of chances to brush up on key points bringing them confidence as well as peace of mind.

To make it more exciting, offer extra review opportunities outside of class — breakfasts with questions and answers or after-school snack sessions. These will serve as lowering-the-pressure moments that anxious students may find very helpful.

If it is an online exam, see to it that your students have the correct device or app to be used and that they are familiar with both the devices and instructions.


2) Keep things in perspective

Teach them problem-solving. Help students understand that there are several ways to solve a problem. Instead of giving the correct answer right away, show the process first to encourage self-determination.

Set clear instructions, keep asking questions, and give suggestions, or helpful hints. Simply boosting their confidence in the most friendly approach helps lessen the fear of a forthcoming test or examination.


3) Help students create a study schedule

Some students who struggle with test anxiety spend cramming that they try to load the brain with so much information at once. This is a kind of panic that only increases fatigue and stress levels. Try helping them with study schedules to follow at home. Encourage them to take rest between subjects and enjoy leisure time for fun and relaxation.


Lightbulb, Concept, Cork, Bulletin, Post

4) Teach them effective test-taking techniques

Test-taking skills can help calm anxious students because it’s like giving them a weapon to face their fears. Since this technique can improve their attitude towards taking tests, it can positively affect their testing competency. They will have lower levels of stress, and therefore achieve better.

Basic test-taking strategies have been proven effective for thousands of students. Check out these top test-taking strategies.


5) Let them feel relaxed and comfortable

On the big day, it is important to set a relaxing tone before the beginning of the test. Chatting for a while, telling a joke, or letting the class relax the mind by taking deep breaths — all can help release pressure from the inside.  Now, with a clear and stress-free mind — tell everyone to stop worrying end enjoy answering the exam, instead.


6) Tell students that its OK to make a mistake

Empower students that tests are normal and that these are important to show their abilities. If they get the wrong answer, then you’re there to help them look over what they answered wrong. Keep reminding that exams and tests are a great way to know what they have learned, particularly with you as their teacher.

Getting a perfect score is great but it’s always OK not to get the 100% mark. Tell them there are thousands and millions of students who get good grades just trying their best. Tell them you are there to help them thrive.


Students, Board, Drawing, To Learn

7) Tap into positive experiences in the past 

Negative thinking is the number one culprit of the fear of tests. Here, students focus on all of the mistakes they could make, the possibility of a bad score, and everything else that could go wrong.

Shift their focus on some positive things they’ve done before. Ask them about a test they did really well, what they did and how they felt after the test. This will help top their own potential and somehow break the negativity cycle.


8) Provide some words of empowerment

Create opportunities or mood-boosting activities that ward off pressures. Think of things that can inspire and make students forget fear.

For example, a picture of a successful group of talents that many students have idolized. Surely, this stimulates positiveness and conviction. Get words of upliftment that they can read like mantras “I can do this” and “If others can do it, I can do it too.” These will break negativity and help students feel more prepared.


9) Read instructions clearly and carefully

Read the directions thoroughly. Slowly decipher each word before starting the test. When learners understand instructions, they know what to do. Because they are confident, it amplifies trust in themselves resulting in reduced mistakes. Now they can focus on the subject matter better and execute skills correctly.


10) Let them take the test calmly

A racing mind is normal at the beginning of any test. Encouraging deep breathing can slow down uneasy feelings. Remind students that being anxious is normal in taking exams and that they are not alone in the world. So go on slowly but surely. Once they have a command of their feelings – it helps them utilize time and answer with pace.


Watch this video on how to study smart and not hard using 10 scientifically proven techniques.



Teachers need to be proactive in addressing test anxiety. The moment you see warning signs in your students during testing sessions such as carelessly hurrying to finish the test, excessive time spent on the difficult questions, or complaining of physical problems repeatedly before a test – pay attention.

If the above recommendations are not adequate, seek advice from the school counselor or psychologist. The student may need to submit for a psychological assessment. Here, the parents of the student may be needed.

Did I miss something on my list? You might want to share your thoughts. It would be great if you could leave your comments below.