teen wrting notes in notebook

Tackling Test Anxiety When You Have Learning and Attention Difficulties

When you have learning or attention difficulties, even the easiest task can be quite the challenge. Things that other students whiz through can leave these students struggling to decipher the directions, let alone complete the assignment. Now picture those difficulties but apply them to a test taking environment. It’s a recipe for failure, especially if their anxiety rises and their difficulties get the best of them. There are a few tips that will help you prepare your student to the best of your ability prior to a big test, especially tests such as the M-Step or SAT. Let’s take a minute to go over them.

Schedule Prep Time

In order to make sure you have enough preparation time worked into your student’s schedule, you need to know a bit more about the test. How many questions is it expected to be? Is the subject one that your student feels comfortable in or do they struggle to learn the concepts that the test covers? How much information is the student being tested on? Make sure you and your student are on the same page and understand how much time should be carved out for studying for the specific test. Blocking out the right amount of time will avoid them cramming for the test and will decrease their anxiety regarding the test.

Share as Much Information as Possible

Think about your life for a moment…if your boss passes by your desk and says she wants to see you for a minute regarding a project you are working on, wouldn’t your nerves kick in and your anxiety increase? You would want to know why she wants to see you, what area of the project she has questions in, and perhaps if you’ll have access to your files to pull up notes if you need to refer to something. The same exact feelings and thoughts run through your teens mind when a test is mentioned. If a study guide is not provided, reach out to the teacher and ask a few questions like how the test is formatted (multiple choice, matching, fill-in-the-blank, etc.), will they have access to their notes, are their certain areas your student should focus on (definitions, graphs, etc.)? Being able to provide your student with enough information that they can conjure up an idea of what the test might look like will be beneficial during the studying phase and when it comes to actually taking the test.

Know What Support is Available

For students with learning and attention difficulties, Teen with test anxiety looking at her computer with her hands on her headhelp can be made available. If you know your child has these differences to overcome, be an advocate and make sure they have an IEP or a 504 Plan on file. These plans allow for certain accommodations that might make test taking a little easier on your student. It’s important that your student knows what accommodations are set in place and that they should speak up if their needs aren’t met.

Even the best, well-intended plans can go wrong, but by talking with their teacher, school administrators, and test administrators, they can have other stipulations put in place that will help them do their best on the test. Take the time before the test to talk with your child and see what fears they have regarding the upcoming tests. This will be an eye-opening experience and will help you to guide your child in the best, most effective way possible. If you should ever need our assistance or have concerns regarding your student, give us a call at 800-297-2119. Should your student still receive a score that displeases them after all of their hard work and accommodations, remind them that it’s okay. We don’t all hit it out of the ballpark every time, and they can use the test as a learning tool to adjust their game plan for next time.

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