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SSYF - Managing Test Anxiety

Managing Test Anxiety


The Managing Test Anxiety module provides students with a definition of test anxiety, reassurance that it is a normal and common phenomenon and resources to combat the nervous feelings.

Materials discuss how students can best prepare for an exam, ways to identify their own anxiety triggers and relaxation techniques for optimal performance.

Outcomes and Objectives

The Managing Test Anxiety student module meets the following NOVA and VCCS goals and student learning outcomes:

  • NOVA General Education Goals:
    • Personal Development
  • VCCS Student Learning Outcomes:
    • Learning how to study and prepare for academic or professional examinations will help students achieve higher levels of success and become more engaged citizens.

Copyright and Usage

Unless otherwise noted, the content in this module and any suggested assignments or assessments are licensed as CC BY NC.

More Info About the Managing Test Anxiety Student Module

This module was developed in December 2014 by Annalise Rivas, (Former) Testing Center Instructor at the Annandale Campus. Updated by Jason DeFreitas, Annandale Testing Center Supervisor, in March 2016.

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Suggested Assignments and Assessments:

1. Learning Styles Questionnaire

  1. At the beginning of the semester consider having your students take a Learning Styles Questionnaire, such as the VARK. This information can be help each student to learn more about their own preferences and help you to discover ways to tailor your lessons to reach maximum efficiency for student success.

2. Creating Student Guides

  1. Have students work on Creating Study Guides of their own to prepare for an upcoming exam. You could even have students turn them in on the day of the test for extra credit as further incentive to create an effective guide.

3. Practice Tests and Quizzes

  1. When it comes time for the first exam, students often have even more anxiety than usual because they don't know exactly what kind of tests will be the standard in your class. Make sure you give students the tools they need to reduce their anxiety by telling them:
    • What format the test will be. (multiple choice, essay, true/false, etc.)
    • What material will be covered -- this doesn't mean give them answers, but tell them what concepts are important or what vocabulary will be covered.
    • How you will grade the test and what percentage of their grade will be determined by that exam.
  2. Once students have this information, request that they create their own Pre-Test Quiz, or Practice Test with the material for your exam. You can even give a prize to the student who creates the one closest to the actual exam and then have the whole class take that practice test!

4. Positive Reinforcement

  1. On the day before or even on the day of the exam, consider giving your students a confidence boost and some positive reinforcement to defeat debilitative anxiety. Consider these tactics:
    • Share the grade results of the last class that took this test (only advisable of the grades mimic what you expect and will make students confident).
    • Write some "Can Do" statements on the board to show what you think the class can do. These can be created for any subject, but here are some examples from NCSSFL-ACTFL.
    • If you have a good rapport with your student and feel they would be amenable, take a few minutes before class starts to do calming rituals like play soothing music, practice deep breathing, or even have everyone get up and do 10 jumping jacks to get rid of stress.

Use the Managing Test Anxiety Student Module With:

Get More Help Using the Managing Test Anxiety Student Module:

  • For students who need more support preparing for exams or learning study skills, direct them to the relevant resource through Academic Support Services at Annandale.
  • Students needing more information about proctored testing should contact the Annandale Testing Center's website. If students need more support preparing for academic exams, they can visit the Annandale Academic Support Centers.
  • To alert students to the consequences of academic dishonesty, direct them to the Student Handbook segment on Academic Dishonesty or the Academic Integrity segment of the NOVA Catalog.
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