For many students, test-taking time is accompanied by great levels of anxiety. Though some may never walk into an exam 100% stress free, students can adopt study and test-preparation skills that enable them to face the time with greater confidence.

Would you like to help students increase their levels of confidence and achievement? These activities, drawn from a variety of sources, will get students talking about study and test-taking strategies that have proven successful for them. As they glean ideas from one another—and put those strategies into practice—they’ll reduce their level of test anxiety and therefore feel more confident when they go into their midterms or finals.

Three Activities to Help Your Students Reduce Test Anxiety

1. This idea from the Instructor’s Manual and Test Bank for Focus on Community College Success, Fourth Edition by Constance Staley, encourages students to share their test-preparation strategies. As they hear from one another, they’re sure to pick up a new tip or two that will enhance their study practices and improve their performance on their exams.

Put students in groups of three for about five minutes to discuss their best ideas about how to prepare for tests. After five minutes, come together as a class, and go around the room and ask each student to explain one technique. Students cannot repeat techniques. What may come out of the discussion is that different techniques work for different students, but that particular themes emerge that hold true for everyone. (Staley, 132)

2. An additional activity, excerpted from Linda Wong’s Essential Study Skills, Eighth Edition, gives students the opportunity to talk through strategies that can enable them to overcome the attitudes and behaviors that reduce their confidence and hinder their success.

1. Form groups of three or four students. Your group will need to have a chart to record responses. Select one member of your group to be the group recorder.

2. Create the following chart. In the Strategies column, brainstorm and list strategies students could use to “unlearn” the behaviors and beliefs that cause test anxiety. Use your knowledge of [study and test-taking strategies] to compile ways students can combat test anxiety. (Wong, 223)

Chart--text anxiety

3. In the Instructor’s Manual for Student Success in College: Doing What Works!, Second Edition, Christine Harrington offers the following activity, which helps students better understand their behavior during tests. As they listen to each other—and themselves—they can assess whether or not they should make any changes to their practices.

Poll students to find out whether they have been advised to “go with their gut” when it comes to changing answers and stick with their first response. This often sparks a lively conversation. Students can also share their own experiences with changing answers and whether it has led to successful outcomes. Share what the research says with the class. (Harrington, 58)

Additional tips that will help alleviate test anxiety

If you’d like additional information on helping students overcome the stress and worry they face at test time, read our post, Helping Learners Conquer Test Anxiety. You’ll find even more tips for students in the following posts:

Mitigating Test Anxiety

Tips for Students: Test-Taking Strategies

Tips for Students: Effective Test-Taking Strategies for Essay Exams

Tips for Taking Online Exams

Share your strategies for helping students reduce test anxiety in the comments.

Harrington, Christine. 2016. Instructor’s Manual for Student Success in College: Doing What Works!, 2nd ed. Boston: Cengage Learning.

Staley, Constance. 2016. Instructor’s Manual and Test Bank for Focus on Community College Success, 4th ed. Boston: Cengage Learning.

Wong, Linda. 2015. Essential Study Skills, 8th ed. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.

© Cengage Learning.