Amie Jones
Professional Learning
Material Type:
Lower Elementary
  • Lesson Plan
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial
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    Lesson Plan: What is Test Anxiety? What can help?

    Lesson Plan: What is Test Anxiety? What can help?


    This is a lesson plan to help students identify test anxiety and give the students some strategies to help with test anxiety.


    Time frame: 1 hour

    Format: Synchronous

    Authors: Amie Jones

    In this lesson plan, students will learn about test anxiety is. The students will learn some strategies for dealing with test anixiety.

    Background for Teachers

    More Kids Than Ever Are Dealing With Test Anxiety, and We Need to Help

    Want better test scores? Address what test anxiety is doing to our students.

    By: Stacy Tornioon

    March 14, 2019

    Test anxiety is the number one learning challenge of students today, affecting more than 10 million kids in North America. Test anxiety is not anxiety per se, though it is related to performance anxiety. And it’s not a learning disorder, though many kids with learning disorders have it.

    Test anxiety is its own beast that shows up in students of all ages at testing time. Students can be 100 percent prepared and ready but then are debilitated when they sit down to take the test.

    Testing has been on the rise, especially in the last 10–15 years. A study from the Council of the Great City Schools found that students will take about 112 standardized tests from pre-K through 12th grade. And researchers are proving that there’s definitely a link between the increase in the frequency of standardized tests and test anxiety. 

    Educators see it every single day, which is adding to their stress, too. We have teachers, like Mary*, who has a whopping 40 percent of their personal evaluation based on students’ test scores. There are schools, like Allison’s, that have important funding tied to their test scores, so admins cut things like recess, art, and even lunchtime to give extra minutes for test prep.

    There are teachers, like Mark, who wake up in the middle of the night, unable to stop worrying about testing: Did I prepare my kids enough? Is Marcus going to get yelled at by his dad if he doesn’t do well? Am I going to lose my job if scores dip this year?  

    And we have confusing and baffling scenarios, like Kate’s. She’s a SPED teacher, and though her students can’t read or understand the concept of testing, they take the same tests as their peers. Those days often end up with Kate’s students in tears, but all she can do is watch helplessly since strict rules restrict her from helping in any way.  

    So what’s the solution?

    It’d be easy to say we should have fewer tests and more trust in our teachers. It’s tempting to blame lawmakers or say we need to overhaul the way we look at testing in schools today. But whether you agree with these statements or not, they won’t help teachers giving standardized tests next month. And it won’t address the 35 percent of students in North America who report having moderate, high, or severe test anxiety.

    To better understand test anxiety and get tips for dealing with it, we spoke with educational experts around the country who see it every day. These professionals work with parents, students, and teachers, hoping to improve the statistics overall. Here are their 10 best tips for helping your students.

    Information from:


    Step 1 - Goals and Outcomes

    Goals and Outcomes


    Learning Intentions:

    • Students will strategies to help with test anxiety.

    Success Criteria:

    • Students will be able to use a strategy to help with test anxiety.


    Step 2 - Planning Instruction

    Planning Instruction

    Student Background Knowledge

    What is Test Anxiety?

    It is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.

    Strategies for Diverse Learners

    To help students understand have students think about one of the following times in their life.

    What makes you nervous?

    Is it a test?

    Is it before you play in a sports game?

    Before a play or recital?

    Before the first day of school?

    Going to the doctor's office?

    Step 3 - Instruction


    1. Introduce the video. Ask the students to think of time that they felt nervous over a test, a game, or first day.

    2. Watch the Video: BIG TEST Success Series - Beamed into Brian's Head

    3. Teach three strategies to use:

    Simple Breathing:

    1. Get comfortable. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. 

    2. Hold the breath for a split second then breathe out slowly. 

    3. Repeat this a couple more times.

    4. Breath normally, but slowly for a couple of minutes.


    Practice, Practice, Practice:

    The more experience you have doing something, the better you tend to be at it.

    The less experience you have doing something, the more difficult and overwhelming it may seem.

    Most people report that new things are more difficult than familiar things.

    Thinking for Positive Results:

    The third part of reducing test anxiety is to reduce and/or eliminate negative messages and images you give yourself about how you will do on the test and replace those thoughts with more realistically positive thoughts and images.

    Step 4 - Assessments


    Students will be creating a role-play presentation. They will come up with a test that makes a kid nervous. The students will teach that student one of the techniques learned to help the student with test anxiety. 


    The students have a test that makes a student nervous in role-playing. 1 Point         Not in role-play 0 Points

    Students teach a strategy to help with test anxiety. 1 Point       Not in role-play 0 Points