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Anxiety and Stress Disorders (Children)

Test Anxiety

06/04/2007

Question:

My daughter started high school this year. In past years her grades were slightly above average. Although she is smart enough to be in the top of her class, she usually fell short because she would give up if she wasn`t able to grasp things right away. Now her teachers say that she knows her material. We have had a few issues about homework, but if they ask her directly she knows the answers. Her last report card was mostly Cs. the lower grades from homework pulling it down. But even though she is pulling a basic C average, she failed every one of her mid terms with an E. I do mean every single one! She did study for a few weeks before these midterms. An hour or two every night. She made herself flash cards and everything. She broke into tears and said she didn`t know what happened. She knew the material but when the test started she forgot and got everything mixed up. How do you help teenagers with that problem?

Answer:

Test anxiety and/or other factors such as learning disability or attention deficit disorder may be at the root of your child's problems. Many children and adolescents just cannot perform well under timed testing situation either because they get too nervous to focus or their attention problems get in the way of success.  I would get some psychologic testing by a certified school psychologist to determine if any or all of these issues may be leading to test failure. 

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Response by:

Floyd R Sallee, MD
Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati