Do you have test anxiety?

If you answered yes, then you might be one of my students!

All of my students have test anxiety. From straight-A students to straight-C students to almost-straight-F students, everyone worries about tests. I won’t go into the reasons in this post. One of my students recently asked what she could do about it, and so I wanted to share the information with you.

There are many books out there on the topic of relieving stress and anxiety, and any of them can apply to test anxiety. Check back later for another post on how to reduce anxiety overall. Right now, here are some quick tips for CALMING DOWN andreducing anxiety on the day of the test.

1) Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Deep breathing ALWAYS helps. It slows the pulse, which slows the adrenaline pumping through your system. This brings you back from the fight-or-flight mode that adrenaline puts you in. You’ll be able to focus better once you’re no longer freaking out.

2) If you’re taking a math-related test, as soon as you get the test, write down all the formulas that you’ll need on this test. For example, if it’s a Geometry test about right triangles, you’ll probably need the Pythagorean Theorem and the special right triangles’ ratios, so write them down at the top of the page AS SOON AS YOU GET THE TEST. Doing this will remove the stress you have about needing to remember the formulas. Now you have two (or three!) fewer things to remember for the whole hour, because if you need them, you can just turn back to the front of the page and look at them. Less stress equals less test anxiety.

3) Look at the problem you’re working on. No, really look at it. Focus on each letter and number until you’re only seeing that one problem. Many students focus too widely on the whole page, which causes the problem you’re working on to jumble with all the rest. When everything jumbles together, it becomes a mess and you can’t make out anything, so of course you’re going to get anxious. Truly look at the problem you’re working on, and things will come into focus.

4) Think about one problem at a time. You might think, “of course I’m thinking about one problem!” but you really aren’t. This tip goes with the previous one: focus on the one problem at hand. Our minds tend to wander, and we start to think about the 50 other things we have to do or the 20 other problems on the test. So now, you’re thinking about 20 different problems, and how are you going to do them all???

Take some more deep breaths. Then look at the problem. Then think about it. (One of the formulas you wrote at the top of the page will probably help. If not…) What is the problem telling you? What is it asking you? What do you need to solve it? Focus on the problem at hand, and it won’t be too overwhelming. Take it in small pieces, one problem at a time.

And lastly, BREATHE!

October SAT

The October SAT is this Saturday, Oct 6th! It’s the first one of the school year, and if you’re a senior, it’s the second to last one you’ll be able to take in time for college applications.

The October SAT is one of the better ones to take. The testing place is not as crowded, and as my summer SAT students learned, there aren’t really any other school-related assignments taking up your time. So you have more time to study for it (all summer even!), and you’re less stressed… which means you’ll be better prepared.

Unfortunately it’s too late to sign up for this one, sorry. However, if you’re thinking about taking the SAT, get on it! The deadline for registering for the November SAT (test date: Nov 3rd, 2012) is this Thursday, Oct 4th (in two days)! Late registration is allowed until Oct 22nd, but you’ll have to pay a late fee. Visitthe College Board website to register.

And if you don’t know if you should take the SAT, give me a holler! Or stay tuned: I’m sure I’ll have another post about it soon. Thanks for reading!

Progress Reports are coming!

It’s October, and you know what that means! Wait, do you know what that means? Many students and parents don’t seem to notice October creeping up on them. All schools are about to send out progress reports (aka report cards, depending on your school). Do you know what your student’s grades are? If not, why?

Progress reports are a time to stop together, to make sure everyone is on the right track. October report cards poke the parents and point out that roughly TWO MONTHS have gone by since school started. Many parents don’t know what grades the student is getting until these reports come in!

I know parents and caregivers are busy. We’re ALL busy. Work has us crushed because “the holidays are coming!” (Somehow, no matter what industry you’re in, the holidays seem to impact them all.) However, we need to take the time to check on each other. That means, following up with the student(s) in your life, whether that’s asking him directly or asking the teacher. Most schools/teachers are now online, via or, to name a couple sites. Check what your student has been doing (or not doing!). Check what missing assignments she has. Ask what you can do to help. Then help. A lot of the time, the student doesn’t care because the parent isn’t paying attention.

HOWEVER! For those parents who already do these things, I applaud you. There aren’t enough of you! You probably feel you’re stretching out as far as you can and you don’t know what else to do. That’s where I come in. Well, hopefully, you’ve called me before you’re stretched thin, but if you haven’t, now’s the time! From experience, I’ve seen that people learn and respond better to one-on-one attention. As an objective third party, a tutor (or other non-live-in, non-related helper) can have a great impact because of the specialized attention the tutor can give the student. Grades and attitudes can change dramatically when someone is paying attention.

So check in with your student. Does HE know what grade he’s getting? Why not? and does he care?