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Making the Grade on School Tests

As schools pass out more standardized tests and push pupils to do well on them, children and parents can wind up with a case of exam-day jitters.

But parents can do a lot to ease test anxiety, both in their children and themselves. Start by focusing on the learning and not the scoring.  

To ease tension, experts say you can:

  • Make sure your child knows the material and has adequately prepared for the test.

  • Teach your child deep-breathing techniques.

  • Make sure he or she gets enough sleep and eats a good breakfast.

  • Keep your own emotions in check.

If a child demonstrates knowledge on a daily basis in the classroom month after month, yet fails on a standardized test, that might mean something is wrong. 

If problems persist, parents can ask the school for extra time, a quieter room, or other steps that may help.

Some problems have a physical root. This might include language defects or learning disorders.

For example, some students who write creative stories do poorly in history because their minds can't retain facts. Others who do well in art may fail at math because of poor sequential processing skills.

All kids have stronger and weaker areas, and it's great when schools can encourage their strengths, but if they can't meet a minimum standard in all areas, they may need to consult a learning specialist or speak to the school administration.