October 8, 2016



Hi Brandon,

I have a terrible feeling that I bombed my math test! I studied super hard, and I still think I got like EVERY SINGLE QUESTION WRONG! Before taking the test, I was feeling totally confident. But after looking at all the questions, I blanked out! Can you help me?!


Stressed About Tests

Hey Stressed About Tests,

Oh man, that’s the worst, when you study as hard as you can and you STILL feel like you bombed a test. I’ve totally been there. I’m guessing most people have.

So, you PROBABLY didn’t do as badly as you thought. Usually when I think I’ve bombed, I haven’t come anywhere near that. Maybe I haven’t exactly aced it, but I’ve gotten a solid grade. Try to think positively. (Because thinking negatively doesn’t really help you any, does it?)

Now, let’s say that somehow you’re actually right and you DID bomb it. If you studied super hard and still got every single question wrong—or even a lot of them—then maybe you didn’t understand the material. You may need to approach your teacher (and/or parents) and explain to them how hard you worked. They may need to arrange some extra tutoring, or your teacher may need to find a new way to explain the material to you.

Because all anyone can ask of you is that you try really hard and it sounds like you did!

But, here’s another thing I’m thinking: If you know the material when you’re not under the pressure of a test, but then you blank out during the actual test, you might have some test-taking anxiety. If this sounds right, you might want to talk to your parents, teacher, or a counselor about it. There are steps you can take to help manage the anxiety. That way you can show what you really know when you sit down to take a test!

Here are a few things that can help with test anxiety:

  1. Be prepared by studying well. (It sounds like you did this!) Also make sure you get a good night’s sleep before the test and eat a good breakfast (or lunch, if the test is in the afternoon).
  2. Build your confidence by answering something easy first. Save the more difficult questions for later.
  3. Stay positive. I know this is easier to say than do, but try to remember how well you prepared and that your whole future will not be determined by this one test. It really helps to stay positive, because the more you focus on negative thinking, the stronger the anxiety will get.
  4. Let it go. When the test is over, channel your inner Elsa from Disney’s “Frozen” and let it go! It doesn’t help you any to obsess over how you did until you get your grade. You can’t change anything once you’ve turned the test in. So congratulate yourself for studying hard and doing your best, and move on. You’ll deal with the grade when it comes.
  5. Concentrate. This also might seem obvious, but there can be a LOT of distractions in a classroom where a whole bunch of students are all taking a test. If your test anxiety is really bad, you might be able to arrange something with your teacher so you can take the test in a less distracting environment. But if not, try really hard to focus on yourself and your test. Don’t worry if other students look like they’re working faster or even finishing before you. It’s not a race. Don’t look around and panic because everyone else looks calm. First of all, you have no idea how they’re really feeling inside. And second, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is you and how you do on your test.
  6. Breathe. Duh, right? But I don’t just mean you should breathe as in don’t die. There are specific breathing exercises you can do to help you keep calm and focus. If you go on YouTube and search “deep breathing exercises for kids,” you’ll get a bunch of results. Obviously you can’t go searching on YouTube during your test, so do this now and practice the breathing exercises so that any time you start getting anxious, you’ll know how to use your breathing to calm down.
How does everyone else handle test anxiety? Any tips for letting go once the test is done?