Test anxiety is a complex construct that manifests itself in various ways for different pupils, however, has proven to be very malleable to targeted interventions. When it comes to identifying and addressing test anxiety, it is important for teachers to be aware of its three main dimensions
What is test anxiety?
Cognitive anxiety – This relates to negative thoughts and worries that pupils experience in relation to taking exams; they may be concerned they will fail, they won’t attain a particular grade, or they won’t be able to recall information. These thoughts can create a cycle of worry, which makes it difficult for pupils to focus on the task at hand.
Somatic anxiety – This relates to the physical symptoms students may experience because of exam anxiety. These can include sweating, shaking, headaches and difficulty sleeping. These symptoms can be distressing for pupils and impact their performance.
Self-imposed pressure– This relates to the high expectations students place on themselves. These can be driven by a desire to achieve high grades, prove themselves, or live up to expectations. Such pressure can lead to feelings of inadequacy and disappointment.
These dimensions are not mutually exclusive, and pupils can experience a combination of all three.
How can you identify pupils with test anxiety?
When it comes to identifying pupils struggling with test anxiety, it can be useful to run a recognised and fully-validated survey that assesses these three dimensions.
At BounceTogether, we provide exclusive access to The Multi-Dimensional Test Anxiety Scale, which consists of 16 items that ask how students generally feel before, during, or after, tests or examinations. High scores on the MTAS scale indicate a child is experiencing a significant level of exam anxiety.
To find out more, you can access a sample report for the survey – Click Here
We can also run this survey for you, providing results and an informative wellbeing report immediately for a one-off cost of £150 – Click Here
What can be done about test anxiety?
There are many research-based interventions that teachers can use to support children experiencing high levels of test anxiety:
- Provide exam strategies – teach children techniques such as time management, breaking down questions, and identifying key words.
- Promote a positive mindset – encourage children to focus on their strengths and think positively about their abilities.
- Teach relaxation techniques – teach children breathing exercises, visualisation exercises, and muscle relaxation to calm their nerves.
- Positive feedback – give positive feedback to highlight children’s progress and build their self-esteem
- Accommodations – make accommodations for children with test anxiety, such as additional practice sessions and quiet preparation rooms.
Hear more about supporting children with test anxiety by watching our latest webinar with Professor Dave Putwain from Liverpool St John University – Download webinar
You can also join further discussions on the topic and access exclusive content in our BounceTogether community - A space for professionals working in the field of mental health and wellbeing in education to come together to support each other, discuss ideas, share resources, and elevate their practice.
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