How can you calm your teens' nerves before they take an exam?

By: Contributors

First, make sure that you're not making matters worse by setting perfectionist standards ("why did you get only a 98 on this test?"). If you stay calm, your teen has a greater chance of staying chilled out as well. If your teen shows signs of stress, such as crying, panic attacks, loss of appetite or loss of concentration, don't add more stress by wondering aloud how your teen will do on the exam, or what will happen if he fails it. Stay relaxed and positive, be willing to listen patiently to your teen if he vents, and reassure him that you love him regardless of the mark that he receives on the exam.

Before exam time, make sure that your teen has enough rest, exercise and healthy food. A recent study demonstrated that those who slept eight hours before a math exam did almost three times better than students who stayed up that night. Try to keep siblings from bothering your teens when they need to study, and encourage your teens to study throughout the semester and not wait to cram in all the material the day before the test. Limit the amount of time that the television is on to avoid distracting your teens and schedule family outings for after the exam.


Share test-taking tips with your teen, such as: carefully read directions, first do the easiest questions or the ones that you know (skip the ones you don't know for now), and work calmly and slowly; an exam isn't a race where the first one who finishes, wins. Tell your teens that when they get to the end of the test, they should look it over and go back to fill in what they left out. If could be that a later question indirectly gives the answer to a previous one, or they may have made a careless mistake that they catch the second time around. Make sure that your teens know that you value their efforts and time no matter what mark they get.