Teaching students how to cope with test anxiety in school through behavioral intervention programs appears to help them with suppressed anxiety and restlessness with other issues not related to anxiety from taking tests. A new study led by Carl Weems from the University of New Orleans conducted research and found the students who had anxiety strategy intervention received additional benefits. The research was published by Springer on May 8 and appeared in the journal of Society for Prevention Research.
The study was conducted on students with elevated test anxiety from five public schools in third to twelfth grades. The targeted students resided in the vicinity of Hurricane Katrina’s path in the southern region to document the over-all anxiety of the students. Weems believes anxiety problems are one of the most common emotional setbacks seen in students and could be linked to their experience from disasters. Thereby, the test anxiety may indicate an increase risk of imminent depressive and anxiety issues plus substance abuse problems in adulthood.
The at-risk students with apparent test anxiety were given instruction on behavioral strategies which included relaxation techniques. The additional benefits noted from the behavioral treatments showed the participating students had a decrease in not only the test anxiety, but also a decrease in anxiety disorders, depression symptoms and the students felt more "in control."
Students with test anxiety may have a feeling of failure, not being prepared or previously had a low test score which evoked a negative test-taking attitude. These factors can be amplified by experiencing a trauma outside of the school environment. For more information on ‘test anxiety,’ go to Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA).
Tips for controlling test anxiety:
- Encourage the child to be prepared by studying for an upcoming test.
- Teach the child to read the test instructions carefully and stay focused.
- Instill in the child that the test does not define the child.
- Encourage healthy sleeping and eating habits.
The older students in the study were highly satisfied with the test anxiety intervention program. The researchers noted within the older students' group, there were positive changes in unrelated anxiety and depressive symptoms. Although being cautious, Weems strongly advises not to rely on test anxiety interventions for treatment of severe anxiety disorders such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.