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Reducing Testing Stress

by | Apr 20, 2023 | News | 0 comments

It is standardized testing season, which often means heightened stress for everyone in the classroom, so we wanted to share some activities you can use to help ease the stress of testing. 

You can use mindfulness, movement, and brain breaks to help alleviate student stress. Mindfulness activities can help students focus their attention and calm their nerves; movement can help release physical tension and improve circulation; and brain breaks can help students re-energize and enhance overall learning.


Research has shown that even brief mindfulness training can help ease test stress while improving overall scores on standardized tests – that means you don’t have to devote much time to mindfulness to reap the benefits! Taking a few moments each day to walk students through mindfulness activities can help to reduce wandering minds, improve cognitive abilities, and improve working memory. Additionally, students learn to pay attention to the present moment without judgment when practicing mindfulness, which can help reduce anxiety and stress, which can interfere with test performance. 

Suggested Activities:

Mindful breathing: Have students take a few deep breaths and focus on their breath as it enters and leaves their bodies. You can do this at the beginning of class each day or before a test.
Mindful listening: Play calming music and have students focus on the sounds they hear. Encourage them to notice the different instruments and how they blend together.
Mindful coloring: Have students do a quick body scan to check in with themselves. Then, offer the opportunity to do a few moments of silent, mindful coloring (students can use coloring pages or color free-hand). 

Some helpful resources:


Physical activity can improve test scores by increasing blood flow and oxygen to the brain, enhancing cognitive function and memory. The increased blood flow from a quick physical warm-up can help students feel more confident and focused during tests– and may help students who struggle with sitting still. Incorporating some quick and easy movement activities into your daily routine– especially on test day– can help ease some stress and anxiety.

Suggested Activities:

Yoga or stretching: Lead students through a series of gentle stretches or yoga poses to help them relax their muscles and calm their minds.
Dance party: Turn on some music and encourage your students to bust out their best moves!
Quick aerobics: Have your students do some jumping jacks, side shuffles, arm circles, or jogging in place.
(Do be mindful of different levels of ability and provide alternate activities for students who need them)

Some helpful resources:

Brain Breaks

Brain breaks are short mental and physical activities that allow students to take a break from classroom learning and refresh their minds. They can be as simple as stretching and taking a few deep breaths or more complex activities like dance or meditation. According to research, incorporating brain breaks into the classroom can help students stay engaged and improve their academic performance. It can also help stop run-away anxious thoughts by changing the brain’s focus. 

Suggested Activities: 

50 Snaps: Have students stand and snap the fingers on both hands 50 times (counting to themselves).
Simon Says: This playground classic helps get students moving (and practicing listening/direction-following skills). When an instruction starts with “Simon says,” the students should follow the direction; if it doesn’t, they stay how they were.
Peace & Love: Students stand and make a peace sign on one hand and the “I love you” sign on the other, then try to switch their peace and love signs to the opposite hand as quickly as possible. 

Some helpful resources:

While they won’t fix all the testing-day jitters, incorporating some of these activities into your classroom routine in the days/weeks before testing may help to reduce stress and anxiety. 

Additional FREE Thriving YOUniversity resources that can help with stress:

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