March 14, 2019

Test Anxiety: Activities and Ideas That Help

Activities to support students with test anxiety.

High stakes state testing can generate a lot of anxiety for students and adults alike. Counselors are uniquely prepared to support students so they have the strategies to manage this anxiety and do the best they can. Five Confident Counselors share their go-to activities and ideas for testing season.

Positive Thinking & Calming Strategies

During testing season, my focus is on calming fears or nerves and practicing positive and realistic thinking. I help students create affirmations for test day to remind themselves that their worth is not defined by test scores with our “donut stress about the test” activity.

I always save a chunk of time for students to ask all of the questions they need to ask about the test so we have a chance to clear up any misconceptions or conclusion-jumping ideas.

We also spend a lot of time practicing calming strategies and little brain breaks they can do while seated if they need a 30-second break during the test.

Keri, Counselor Keri

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De-Stress Zone

Now that I’m no longer test coordinator (hurrah!), my focus is on helping students feel calm and confident about state testing.

One way I do this is through partnering with my librarian to make the library a “de-stress zone” with mandalas and colored pencils, stuffed animals, and glitter jars. We invite teachers to bring their classes down the afternoons after morning testing.

We also pair up lower grade classes with upper grade classes during testing weeks; the younger kiddos make posters, chants, snack bags, etc. and come deliver them and give high-fives to the big kids.

And finally, I like to lighten the mood when reviewing test taking strategies by doing a zombie-themed escape room with my students. Making things a little silly always helps calm nerves!

Sara, The Responsive Counselor

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Mindfulness Strategies

I help teachers during testing season by teaching students test taking skills for success. During my guidance lessons, I teach students calm down and mindfulness strategies that will help them to ease their mind and allow them to show what they know on the test. I find that teaching students how to clear their mind so they can focus is the best way I can support teachers and help set their students up for test taking success.

Mrs. Bell The Crafty Counselor

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Mindfulness Lesson

I think any discussion of test taking should go hand in hand with a mindfulness lesson. I use guided meditation videos from The Honest Guys on Youtube to show students how to self-calm the night before a big event or test.

Once they are calm, I show a powerpoint with test taking strategies and send them home with a flipbook containing the same information. The day of the test, we decorate the doorways with encouraging signs that say things like “You can do this!”  or “You will rock this test!”.

Brandy, The Counseling Teacher

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Build Confidence

I try really hard to help kids think about their inner awesomeness when it is testing season. I try to keep the focus away from “you must do your best because this test is important” to one that is “You’ve got this, just show them what you know!”. I love leaving the students little inspirational messages, and my kindness lunch bunch students help me to decorate pencils and lockers with notes of encouragement.

The Middle School Counselor
Carol Miller, The Middle School Counselor

Visit my TPT store and get counseling ideas on my blog. Let's connect on Instagram and Facebook!

How do you support students during testing season?

Read more ... Build Positive Attitudes During Testing Season


How do you support students with test taking anxiety as high stakes tests are on the horizon. These confident counselors support students with test anxiety.

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