Reducing Test Anxiety with the Three Principles


Test anxiety is so common -- with ten to forty percent of learners facing this -- that your student may have experienced it. Although this is a problem many students face, it is one in which a solution is unclear. Testing anxiety stems from issues such as lack of confidence in the material or stress on achieving a good grade. However, this can be combated with the help of three principles.

The formal definition for testing anxiety, according to Very Well Mind, is a “psychological condition in which people experience extreme distress and anxiety in testing situations.” This anxiety can go on to impair learning and hurt test performance.

Test Anxiety can be crippling

As one who has experienced test anxiety on major exams like the SAT and Advanced Placement, I know firsthand what it feels like. If I were to instill confidence in my abilities using the three principles in this article, I could have succeeded in performing better and earning a higher grade.

There are steps that can be taken in order for students to perform better and reduce testing anxiety. For example, 24/7 Teach utilizes three principles that can aim to greatly reduce or even eliminate testing anxiety. By better understanding what these principles mean, parents can help their young learners take active approaches to enhance their testing abilities and reduce stress.

Principle #1: Scores represent a learner’s position on a map at that moment in time, not their abilities.

This principle shows the student as one who progresses through a course as they learn new skills. Rather than treating the student as stationary, this map uses scores to gauge their knowledge and where they stand with a certain concept.

Test Scores are like positions on maps

With this model, a score does not reflect a learner’s abilities. They are representative and reflect multiple areas of skills that a student develops.

Educators use assessments and assessment scores to determine the student’s performance and can communicate how the student is doing. By doing so, educators can better tailor their lessons to the student and provide valuable feedback to get the student on the right track.

This principle can greatly reduce or eliminate testing anxiety by ensuring a student knows where they stand in their course. They can then practice the necessary skills that will be tested on exams. This is valuable to ensure that the correct material is being studied.

extra amount of support and increase their performance on tests

Parents can take this principle into account by checking in with their children and seeing their progress. If there are certain skills that need to be reinforced, as seen by placement on the map, parents can review these with their children. This will give students an extra amount of support and increase their performance on tests.

Principle #2: Scores, like positions, change with determination, effort, guidance, practice and time.

Scores, like positions, change with determination, effort, guidance, practice and time.

With this principle, educators help students create reachable goals that can measure their position on the map. These goals can only be achieved by practicing the “growth mindset.” This explains two concepts: one, students must understand their ability to develop the desired outcomes and two, different levels of effort are required to achieve these outcomes.

A student needs to understand where they are performing at the current position on the map, what level is expected, and how they are going to reach their desired outcomes. Once a student identifies these factors, they can grow in their learning and better achieve their desired outcomes.

As the principle explicitly states, scores change with determination, effort, guidance, practice and time. Educators should consider a student’s score and how they achieved it. Also, students should reflect on their scores to consider the factors listed.

Furthermore, parents can help their children by reviewing concepts with them that were unclear or need more work. They can also instill feelings of motivation and provide feedback that will ensure their child is on the right track.

Motivation is important for a student’s success

When experiencing my own testing anxiety, I knew that I had to push forward and motivate myself to keep going. Feedback truly does wonders on one’s motivation.

This principle can help in greatly reducing or eliminating testing anxiety because students can learn to push forward and master the concepts they are not clear about. This will, in turn, boost their confidence and help them perform better on exams.

Since testing anxiety is psychological, adopting a positive mindset that will allow a student to grow is crucial. It truly is all in your head.

Principle #3: Everybody develops different skills with different levels of effort at different times.

This principle is important to understand because it shows that a student’s progression through a course is indeed that: progress. Students work through concepts in different ways and at different speeds.

Principle #3: Everybody develops different skills with different levels of effort at different times.

Going back to the hypothetical map, students travel from place to place on the map as their assessment scores improve. The journey around the map can be achieved through practice of a skill. In other words, after the student learns a new skill, they must practice it to then move on to another skill.

There are two factors to look at when determining whether to move to the next position on the map: ability and effort. Ability is achieved when the skill can be replicated correctly over a period of time so that it becomes a habit. Effort is shown when a students practices a skill again and again in order to understand it.

However, there is a risk when it comes to practicing. Students must be practicing the skill correctly. This means that if they repeatedly do a problem and get it wrong each time, the student is not doing it correctly.

Educators can help fix this with guidance and feedback. By showing the student the right steps in solving the problem, it can ensure success.

Testing anxiety can be greatly reduced or eliminated

Testing anxiety can be greatly reduced or eliminated with this principle by showing students that practice makes perfect. They are not expected to perfect every skill but can make strides to do their best and ensure they understand a concept.

With these three principles in mind, both students and parents should put them into practice. After all, we have covered the reasons on why practice is important.

Students can figure out what way works best for them to learn a concept

Begin thinking as an entrepreneur. Constantly analyze what is effective or not, what drives a learner to stay motivated, and what factors will allow the educator or parent to measure results. How can you make the most out of these principles in order to reduce test-taking anxiety?

Have your children think about what is important to them and why they wish to reduce test anxiety. Is it to focus more on the test and get a better grade? Is it to challenge themselves and see more improved results in their test-taking abilities?

Whatever the reason, students must understand their mission and stick to it. As they produce new study habits or re-learn certain concepts, they will continually recall this mission and strive to do better than before. This essentially allows the student to focus their thoughts, just as an entrepreneur would.

Through this mindset, students will also find out what methods work and do not work. If they find one way that does not reduce test anxiety, they can figure out another way. The mind is continually at work, so it is best to utilize this whenever possible.

The three principles provide a core foundation for learning. 24/7 Teach uses these to develop material and coursework that benefits the student long-term. Students can acquire skills, known as transferable skills, that can be applied to other areas of life.

For example, easing test anxiety now can help in reducing more serious signs of anxiety in the future. Walking a student through the process of acceptance and learning can greatly benefit them.

My Conclusions

Overall, by explaining that learning is a process through which determination and innovation will garner success, students can prosper in their academics and in their personal lives. They will acquire skills that can be applied to a variety of disciplines. They will also stand out to employers by displaying their newfound skills.

Overcome Testing Anxiety

The three principles offer guidance to explain how testing anxiety can be reduced or eliminated. Students can now utilize these to alter their study habits and become more efficient learners.

If there are problems to be solved, there will be solutions. If there are roadblocks in learning, there will be ways to overcome them.

Now, it seems as if test anxiety just got a whole lot easier to manage.


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