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Ninth-Grader with Test Anxiety
Q: My 14-year-old son is in the ninth grade and is having difficulty when it comes time to take an exam -- he goes blank. His teachers have told me that he knows the material in class, but he becomes quite anxious when it comes time to take the test. What can we do to help?
A: You don't indicate whether or not your son has had this problem in earlier grades or if it has just come about this year. It's going to be especially important now that he is in high school that your son be able to do his best on tests.
Talk with the school counselor. She may be able to give your son some individual time to work on his test anxiety. There may be a college or university near you that also offers this type of training for students.
There are many simple relaxation exercises that your son can be taught to help reduce his anxiety level in testing situations. He can learn to tighten and then relax specific muscle groups in his body; close his eyes and imagine that he is in a calm and peaceful place; use positive imagery to imagine finishing the test successfully and making a good grade on it. Check your public library or a bookstore for a book on stress reduction and relaxation for other exercises your son can practice.
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Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.