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How to Overcome Mathematics Test Anxiety

By C.D. Crowder

So math isn't your strongest subject. It seems like no matter how hard you study, when it comes time for a math test, you can't concentrate or remember even basic rules for problem solving. Overcome text anxiety with these tips.


You may be blaming your study skills for bad math test results, when the real problem may be anxiety. You may experience insomnia, nausea, severe nervousness and irritability as just a few of the symptoms before or during a math test.

Another major symptom is a sudden inability to concentrate. These symptoms occur no matter how hard you study for your math test and are not a result of bad study skills.

The good news is, mathematics test anxiety can be conquered with a little work!

Learn the Test Type

Math Symbols When you don't know what to expect on a math test, it's even harder to be calm. Talk to your teacher about what types of questions to expect. Knowing the kinds of problems to expect will help you feel less nervous because you'll be more prepared.

Also talk about whether there are word problems or equation problems. Many students only have anxiety over certain types of test problems.

The sudden surprise when one appears on a test turns a person's mind into a complete blank. Ask for a test study guide to help prepare and be sure to do the recommended practice the teacher provides during the unit. This way, you can work out any of the questions you have before test day.

Many students require special types of tests. Students learn different subjects differently. If you feel this is the problem, talk to your teacher, school counselor or principal about test alternatives such as verbal tests.

Find Something You Remember

Sometimes the easiest way to overcome mathematics test anxiety is by finding a problem you can solve. Once you move past the mental block, your confidence starts to build. You do not have to do the math test problems in any type of order. Even if you only start by remembering one formula, it will help clear the fog in your mind and reduce many anxiety symptoms.

Cause of Anxiety

Discover the reason for your anxiety. Maybe it was a test that went wrong due to a bad day or lack of study. Maybe you misread the directions and performed the wrong calculations. The answer may even be a horrible experience with a math teacher. Talk out your problems with a school counselor, friend or family member. This will help you work past the initial cause. Once you conquer the cause, the anxiety gradually lessens until a math test is just any other type of test.

Take a Break

When you have problems with mathematics test anxiety, you may over study to compensate. This is the worst thing you can do. The longer you study, the more nervous you become. Not to mention, your mind can only handle so much. Take breaks.

The best advice is to learn the math concepts slowly. That way, when test day arrives, you know which formula to use when. Memorize and practice the formulas a little at a time for best results. To become more confident in your math skills, practice and ask questions.

The best method to do this is to have a set routine. Study for an hour and take a stretch or snack break. Give your mind a chance to absorb the material. The more you cram, the harder it is to retain information and the more nervous you will become.

Set a Test Routine

Routines can work as well as a good luck charm. Have a set routine on the day of your math test. This includes getting a good night's rest the night before. Eat the same thing for breakfast, wear a certain article of clothing or clothing accessory, take a few minutes to quickly glance over study material, and do anything else that makes a student feel as if the math test is just another part of the day.

Test Exercises

When test time comes, calm your mind. Instead of trying to immediately start a math test, take calming breaths, visualizing how well you will do on the test and remembering how confident you were after your study session. Also, do small stretches in your seat. This may be bending your fingers and stretching your hands for relaxation.

Tutors and Counselors

If the problem is your learning style or you have trouble understanding certain concepts, consider getting a math tutor or working with your teacher after class. Math anxiety can vanish instantly once you understand math.

If you still struggle with mathematics text anxiety, speak with a counselor. They will work alongside you and your teacher to make certain you feel comfortable come test day. Sometimes a little outside help is needed to overcome math test anxiety.

Resources -

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Math and Reading Help for Kids -

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons / Rovnet