Addressing and Overcoming Test Anxiety

Available with English captions and subtitles in Spanish.

Taking tests can be stressful. That’s a fact most of us know from experience. But in today’s increasingly competitive world filled with high-stakes exams, far too many students find themselves overwhelmed by severe test anxiety.

Unaddressed, this stress can become debilitating and prompt teens and young adults to avoid academic and professional pursuits. Fortunately, some simple anxiety management strategies can make a big difference for test-takers of all ages.

So what should parents, educators, and providers know about the often-complex relationship between text anxiety and academic performance? How can students learn to accept and navigate their stress around exams? And when is professional help warranted?

Audience Questions

Alex Jordan, PhD, and Benjamin J. Lovett, PhD, discuss how test anxiety is assessed and treated, offer practical, evidence-based tips for improving studying and test-taking skills, and answer audience questions about the pros and cons of testing accommodations and other interventions.

  • What is test anxiety?
  • What do we know about the underlying causes of test anxiety?
  • How common is test anxiety, and is it becoming more prevalent?
  • What is the correlation between test anxiety and performance?
  • How is test anxiety assessed, and what evaluation tools are used?
  • How can one tease apart test anxiety that’s within “normal” ranges vs. test anxiety that is eligible for accommodations when it comes to disability and accessibility?
  • Can you speak to the intersection of test anxiety and clinical anxiety disorders?
  • What does treatment for text anxiety look like?
  • In terms of treatment, what kinds of settings are used (virtual, in-person, group, etc.)?
  • How does one find treatment for text anxiety?
  • What do you want to share with clinicians about treating test anxiety?
  • Are there both pros and cons to seeking accommodations for someone struggling with test anxiety?
  • Can you speak to the relationship between test anxiety and ADHD?
  • How might mindfulness techniques be used for addressing test anxiety?
  • When preparing for a test, is it more helpful to work with practice questions or review one’s notes?
  • What are your suggestions for when people with high test anxiety find themselves unable to complete a test on time due to blanking out?
  • How can kids with test anxiety prepare for standardized testing when they can’t study specific material for it?
  • Do age and performance history factor into how test anxiety is best addressed?
  • Has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted test-taking?

The information discussed is intended to be educational and should not be used as a substitute for guidance provided by your health care provider. Please consult with your treatment team before making any changes to your care plan.


About Alex Jordan, PhD

Alex Jordan, PhD, is a clinical psychologist providing behavioral case formulation and therapy for individuals with a wide range of psychiatric conditions at McLean Hospital. He is an instructor in psychology in the Department of Psychiatry, part-time, at Harvard Medical School.

About Benjamin J. Lovett, PhD

Benjamin J. Lovett, PhD, is an associate professor of psychology and education at Teachers College, Columbia University, teaching courses on psychological testing and legal/ethical issues in school psychology. He is a licensed psychologist in New York State and serves as a consultant to schools and testing agencies.

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