My teen has test anxiety and I don’t know what to do about it.
Numerous students do well with homework but have difficulty taking tests. Others perform poorly with both homework and tests. For many students, one main cause of test anxiety or poor test-taking skills is weak or non-existent visualization skills. If students do not picture information in their mind’s eye when they study, then it is likely they will not retain the information for a test situation. This can produce anxiety, as students may study for hours, yet the information is not retained. Sometimes it doesn’t appear to teachers that students have even studied. Other students perform better with quizzes because less information needs to be retained, but may perform poorly on lengthier tests.
Students often come into our clinic with very poor grades and no hope of attending college. After being trained in visualization skills, many of these students exhibit increased grades and are able to attend college. Other clients have retaken the SAT test and qualified to attend a better college than they had been accepted to prior to treatment.
Commonly our clients have improved from D and F grades, to A and B grades. Some still may receive a C here and there; it depends upon a student’s motivation and intelligence level. It is also common for students that receive special education services through their school district to no longer qualify for services after receiving our treatment, or for others, to not qualify for at least some aspects of their services.
Other clients maintain straight A averages prior to receiving services at our clinic, but must study too hard and too long for their grades, and therefore feel anxious when taking tests. When these students learn to visualize consistently their homework time is often significantly reduced and they feel more relaxed when taking tests.
It commonly takes clients six to nine months to make a habit of visualization skills. Once the habit is formed, specific practice can be stopped. It is a process, however, the results are well worth the time and effort. Most clients need to practice only 15 minutes several times a week, and then just be aware of thinking about visualizing whenever possible during the rest of the week. The step by step approach I use for teaching visualization skills to improve attention, comprehension and memory skills, which directly improves test-taking skills, is available in my ebook Beyond Tutoring: Strategies to Improve Reading, Spelling, Comprehension and Memory.