Standarized Testing: How To Beat Test Stress

test 2It’s standardized-testing time — and anxiety in schools is running high. Help your child stay confident with our step-by-step advice. Losing sleep over standardized tests used to be something college-bound teenagers did. Now kids as young as 8 get panicky. With the school’s future riding on the results, it’s no surprise that there’s a culture of anxiety in the weeks before the exams. Sound like your child? These tips can soothe test-day jitters and help every child feel calmer, sleep better, and perform their best on the big day — and on every quiz in between.

  • Check your own anxiety. Parents feel intense pressure to have their kids succeed. It’s natural — you love your child and want them to have every opportunity. Assess your motives and ease your own nerves by repeating this mantra: “I’m the antidote for the pressure rather than the cause.”
  • Put it in perspective. To gauge your child’s state of mind, ask how they are feeling about the test. If they’re fine, move on. But if they’re jittery, say, ‘”This is just a way to see if the kids in your school are learning everything they need to know.” You can also point out that the test score is just a small piece that makes up who they are, along with their sense of humor and drawing chops.
  • Tweak bedtime. For your child to get a full night’s sleep the night before the test, they have to have a good routine going now. If not, make sure homework gets done right after school, and move dinner to an earlier time.


  • Pump up the energy. Add some fun physical activities, like a family bike ride in the late afternoon or some drop-in karate classes. They’ll help your child snooze better at night. Plus, they will produce feel-good endorphins that can relieve stress and boost positive energy.
  • Relax and have fun. Cramming vocab or practicing division problems isn’t going to calm your kid down — or even help them do better. Instead, plan something that will take everyone’s mind off the test, like family game night or a pizza party. A healthy snack an hour before bedtime and a soothing bath will help him nod off.
  • Fill up. Start the day off right by serving up a morning meal of complex carbs and protein. Greek yogurt with fresh (or frozen) fruit and honey or oatmeal with nuts are way better than sugary cereals, which can just cause your child to crash when they need energy the most.
  • Be on time. Kids can get anxious about arriving late and then having to rush to prepare for the test, so set the alarm ten minutes early to get everyone out the door without last-minute chaos.
  • Connect with a friend or teacher. Talking about pre-test jitters with a teacher or a close friend can be a good way to chill. Not only will it make your child feel less isolated, but it’ll release some of the nerves they may have.


  • Remind them to put down the pencil and breathe. When kids are anxious, they forget to breathe. If your child starts to panic or comes to a question they don’t know, tell them to close their eyes and take three deep breaths. It’ll help them calm down and grow more confident when they focus again. If they still doesn’t know the answer, they can give it their best guess and move on. After all, these tests happen only once a year, but learning to dial down stress is a skill kids can use every day.

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