Tips to Help Students Stress Less and Do Well on Final Exams

Pretty African-American girl in diverse middle school class.It’s June, and you know what that means. Summer vacation is so close that it’s nearly tangible (cue “The Final Countdown”). If you’re feeling the itch to start enjoying summer break, then you know your students are too. There is only one hurdle standing between you and your students and warm, long, summer days: Final exams. It’s time for your students to demonstrate their understanding of everything that they’ve learned throughout the year, yet the pressure to perform coupled with the proximity of summer vacation is making it difficult for them to focus and excel. As their teacher, you can help your students maintain their focus, and do well on their final exams. To help them stress less and cruise into their summer break with confidence and clarity, follow the tips below.

  1. Learn to Recognize and Address Test Anxiety. High test anxiety is a real, diagnosable condition that affects 18 to 20 percent of students, making it difficult for them to prepare confidently for final exams. Students with test anxiety may present physical symptoms such as stomachaches, sudden mood or behavior changes, or difficulty focusing. If you suspect a student is struggling to prepare for finals exams due to test anxiety, talk to the student and his or her parents and work with your school’s internal resources to provide additional support to help the student cope with their nerves so he or she can excel academically.
  2. Help Students Find Their Individual, Preferred Study Method. You already know that not all students learn using the same techniques. Studying is no different. Spend a portion of a class showcasing different methods for students to use to prepare for exams, and encourage them to embrace the approach that works best for them. Study techniques may include quizzing, notecards, studying with a friend, note taking, or re-reading instructional materials.
  3. Clearly Communicate the Format and Expectations of the Final Exam. Your students will best be able to prepare themselves for final exams once they understand the format. Will they be asked multiple choice questions or expected to provide short answers? How many essay questions will they be able to choose from, and how much is each test section worth? Asking students to practice and prepare using past years’ tests can help them familiarize themselves with the test format and gain confidence in how they need to study and how much time they will have during the final exam.
  4. Give Your Students Confidence by Staying Positive. If you seem apprehensive or nervous for your students in the weeks or days leading up to the final exam, they will pick up on your nerves and may lose confidence in their abilities. As their leader, convey confidence in their knowledge and reassure them that they have the skills and tools to succeed. Your enthusiasm and positivity will become infectious and will help them to not second guess themselves during the exam.

Even though you can’t help your students directly during the test, know that you have done your job leading up to finals to prepare them to showcase their knowledge and advance to the next academic level. With some additional focused preparation leading up to final exams, you will instill in your students the confidence they need to excel, and then enjoy their summer vacation worry-free.

Do you have any tips to help other teachers prepare students for finals? If so, please comment below. We’d love to hear from you!

Good luck teachers!

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