Being tested provokes anxiety, which can have several negative consequences in the classroom. First, Test anxiety can interfere with a student’s ability to demonstrate their knowledge on examinations. There is general consensus that test anxiety is negatively associated with academic performance, possibly through mechanisms such as the disruption of working memory. Second, there is some evidence that test anxiety is associated with academic dishonesty. Thus, educators can enhance student learning (or at least the ability to express learning) and reduce the incidence of academic dishonesty by using strategies to reduce student test anxiety.
This guide provides strategies and recommendations to help you reduce test anxiety in your classroom.
Reduce anxiety by helping to structure students’ preparation.
Build anxiety-reduction strategies into your course.
Some students experience higher test anxiety online than with in-class assessments, often resulting from technology challenges. Take action to reduce online test anxiety and improve the equitability of online assessments.
Discuss these strategies early in the term and reinforce them again before each exam.
Be flexible and transparent in your communication. Find opportunities to connect with students who may not speak up.
Consider rethinking your exam structure and content with an eye to reducing anxiety.
Arrive early and be well prepared to administer the exam. Knowing that the instructor is well prepared and organized will help keep students calm.
Immediately before the exam, show a funny short video clip, do a 2-minute breathing exercise, or use some other technique to help students relax and take their minds off their anxiety. (Tell students in advance that you will be doing this.)