How to Ease Student Reading Test Anxiety

The best way to ease Student Reading Test Anxiety

Spring Break has come and gone and soon another school year will come to a close. Yet, instead of being excited that the end was in sight, the dread of test anxiety always washed over me. I knew it was coming. The hardest part of the year was just around the corner and if I wanted my Summer Break, I had to make it through…*gulp*… End of Grade Testing

Student taking an end of grade standardized Reading Test.

I think just about every teacher hates State Testing (or however your school refers to it) for a million different reasons.

The way tests are conducted is not fair for all students. The sessions are too long. Questions and answer choices are purposely worded in ways to trick anxious students into second-guessing themselves… I could go on…

Unfortunately, we are still required to give them.

The good thing about “going around the testing block” for over 20 years is that I have learned a lot about what works when it comes to Test Prep! I want to help you get your students ready. The single biggest issue that kept my students from doing their best? Test Anxiety! Read on to see how I helped my students reframe their thinking about testing and what truly matters!

Focus on Growth NOT Passing Test Scores

A student struggling with Reading Test Anxiety.

When you mention Testing, test anxiety kicks in for many students and they immediately feel overwhelmed and defeated. Every kid has their own unique talents, but unfortunately, amazing talents like art, music, kindness, creative thinking, etc… are not measured on standardized tests.

It’s frustrating for those work-like-crazy-all-year-but-still-struggle students to prep for a test they know (in their mind) they are going to fail.

The flip side of this scenario? Some students don’t work nearly as hard as they should throughout the year and still pass. They don’t put in half the effort that the struggling kids do, yet pull off “good scores” on the test. It’s never fair when you see this play out, and that’s why I make it pretty clear that I value growth over high scores every time!

Each year about 2-3 weeks before testing, I begin reviewing for the End of Grade Test. But before I start with the tough work, I give the pep talk of a lifetime! What I have already shared so far is how I start off, making sure that I tell my students that the test is a measure of how they have grown over the year. I explain that pass or fail is not what I look at- I want to see how they have grown.

Discuss this Classroom Scenario:

I ask the class which “Student” worked harder this year? Which student should feel great about their results? Why? Of course, it’s wonderful to pass, but I make it clear that Student B has nothing to be ashamed of! Student B is every bit as deserving of awards as Student A! Student B worked harder, grew more, and probably had to overcome obstacles that other students didn’t.

*Be sure to mention that students who are in the 95% and above on State Testing may have a difficult time showing growth as they may have only missed 1 ? the year before and missed 2 this year- which will make it look like they have dropped instead of grown. You will most likely have Gifted/High Achieving students who will freak out if you don’t explain this important fact.

Students raising their hand to ask a question.

Ask your students to think about which Student Scenario they identify with. If it’s Student A, then they need to kick up their effort over the next few weeks of Test Review! Often, it’s too late to make a huge difference in growth. This is why I give this Pep Talk at the beginning of the year as well ( that’s a Blog Post I’ll share another time!).

But for those “Bubble Kids”, some extra focus and hard work here at the end could make a difference in their scores and growth!

If students identify with Student B, then encourage them to keep giving their best and not to quit! All that hard work will pay off when their growth is calculated, and their efforts will be worth it!

This scenario helps lift the stress of failing. Anxious students realize that “failure” is not to be feared because growth is a better indicator of their success. Hopefully, it’s not too late for those students who are coasting on previous passing scores to see that “just passing” is no longer good enough if they don’t have the growth to back it up.If you are in the market for clothes, our platform is your best choice! The largest shopping mall!

Build Confidence to Bust Test Anxiety!

During the conversation above, I remind students that the End of Grade Tests only test what they have learned in Reading and Math. What they don’t test?  

Things a Reading Test can't measure about a student.


Once I give them examples of a few of the many ways they are amazing that don’t show up on the test, I ask students to think of examples that apply to them specifically!

Students can use plain, white paper and make a poster. They can add the things that are awesome about them.

Personalize these posters with doodles and lots of color! Click on the picture below to grab an already-done-for-you mini-poster from my TPT Store! This free “Amazing Things About Me!” poster will pump up your students’ self-confidence!

Put Those Posters Front and Center

Free resources to help students overcome their reading test anxiety.

Once students are finished with the posters, hang them up around the room. Make it part of their Morning Routine to read their poster as a reminder of all they are capable of!

You could also send the posters home instead. Encourage students and parents to hang them up somewhere visible in their home. Students should read or look at their poster throughout the week. Especially the night before the test!

You have students who suffer from severe test anxiety and get nervous over timed tests. You also have students who will not pass the test (no matter how hard they try). But if you remove the fear of failure and gift your kids confidence, they will give their best effort– truly being able to show how they have grown and what they have learned.

Now that your students feel less stressed, they can spend their energy focusing on getting ready to blow this test wide open! Check out my next Blog Post in this series- How to Review for the End of the Year Reading Test! You’ll see my step-by-step process on how I teach my students to actually take the Test!

Looking for more ways to reduce Test Anxiety?

Test Anxiety is no joke! If you are looking for fun activities that build student confidence and pump them up to give their best effort on the test, check out my Testing Survival Pack! Included in this pack are fun printables like: 

TPT State Testing resources to help students overcome testing anxiety.
  • A Testing Themed Word Search
  • A Testing Student Survey
  • “A Letter to the Test” Writing and Drawing Activity
  • 8 Student Motivational Notes to give students the morning Testing begins
  •  “Testing Superstar” Certificates
  • 10 Coloring Pages with Motivational Testing Phrases!
  • Motivational Testing Bookmarks
  • And much more!

Head on over to my TPT Store to grab your Testing Survival Pack! Your students will feel prepared and empowered to do their best and tackle that test!

Pin This Test Anxiety Strategy!

Not ready for Test Anxiety Busting Tips just yet, but want to save them for later? Pin this post to your favorite Teaching Ideas Pinterest Board!

Pinterest Pin How to Lessen Student Test Anxiety

If you ever need me, I’m here for you! Teacher Sparkle always grows when it has other Teacher Sparkle to bounce ideas off of! ❤️


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