The shaking, sweaty palms. The nervous tapping of a pencil. The rhythmic sound of the second hand ticking away at the clock.
We've all been there before - whether it be sitting at a desk with a paper and pencil, or behind a computer screen in an online classroom. Testing is an essential part of the education system, and whether you're a teacher, parent or student, you're surely familiar with some of the anxieties associated with this process.
Tests don't have to be scary, though! Students are often more prepared than they think. By following these easy tips, you can help your students find the right mentality to keep calm and focus during tests.
1. Know thy Test!
One way to combat test-taking anxiety is by making sure students have plenty of practice with their respective test format. If students know what to expect in terms of exam layout and instructions, they'll be more comfortable and able to focus on answering the questions. At Creative English, in addition to grammar practice and supplementary activities, we include test practice in each of our Cambridge lessons. This helps familiarise students with what each question will look like and gives us the opportunity to discuss tactics and strategies for tackling different exercises. Be sure to stay up-to-date with the latest changes in any exam you're preparing students for. You can find the current Cambridge exam guidelines here.
2. Clock Yourself
In addition to practising test format, it's important to practise working within set time limits. By practicing timed activities, students will develop a sense of how long it might take them to complete individual tasks. It's not a race, so encourage students who complete their work too quickly to take their time in order to avoid sloppy mistakes. Remind students it's okay to move on from a question they do not know the answer to. At the completion of the exam, students should always check back over their work and fill in any answers that they had left blank. They should also be careful to check for any spelling errors or silly slip ups in their responses.
3. Make a Mark
Finding the correct answer largely depends on understanding what the question is asking. Help your students practise underlining key words in questions and instructions. This will keep them on task and serve as a quick reference point when scanning through the test questions. Remind students to answer the questions completely and to the best of their ability.
4. Eat, Sleep and Breathe
Having a healthy mind means having a healthy body, too! To help your students perform well on test day, remind them to get a good nights sleep, eat a healthy meal beforehand and drink plenty of water. Stretching or doing exercise leading up to the exam can also help students fight stress and maintain a healthy mindset. When it comes to the test itself, remind your students not to panic if they start to feel that shaky, sweaty palm feeling. Instead, encourage them to take a deep breath and do their best.
Not everyone approaches test taking in the same way! Do you have any strategies or tips to share? Tell us in the comments.