What Teachers Should Know About Test Anxiety

The following is information all professional educators should be aware of regarding student's anxiety towards test taking. 

The kind of relationships students have with their parents and teachers greatly affects their level of testing anxiety.


  • Testing anxiety can develop as early as the preschool years when students begin interacting with their parents about their performance in school. High anxiety develops when student performance doesn't line up with parent's (often unrealistically high) expectations.
  • Teacher-student relationships also influence test anxiety. The attitudes that teachers portray about testing and the atmosphere they create in the classroom is very closely related to the anxiety of their students. 
    • Teachers should make sure anxious students remember that good grades aren't dependent on uncontrollable forces. Don't let students develop "learned helplessness", where they believe that no matter what they do, they will still fail. 
    • Teachers need to remember that it is their job to help students achieve success, not criticize, belittle, or devalue student efforts.

Teachers need to understand the correlations between student skill ability and testing anxiety.

  • Testing anxiety is not a phenomenon unique to students with low or high ability. Students that are learning disabled may have test anxiety from having had several negative testing experiences. Students with high ability can still suffer from test anxiety resulting from a need to always test perfectly.
  • It is important to remember that while some slight feelings of anxiety may help "hype" a student up to give their best performance, excessive anxiety hinders student performance because it distracts the student from the task at hand.

Assessing Test Anxiety


  • Provides information about and ways in which to assess test anxiety.

Reducing Test Anxiety in the Classroom


  • Provides information on how teachers can lower test anxiety in their own classroom.