At Veritas--particularly in our secondary school--we have two times during each semester of larger and more intense testing called midterms and finals. We follow this pattern to help students get ready for college. Our midterms and finals don't have the same weight as those done in college typically do, but because they are big tests and because they are new experiences--especially for our Middle School Students--they can cause a lot of stress. So, here are some tips for helping your child do well on big tests like finals and midterms:
First, it is best to approach with the right mindset. As a parent, you might be tempted to try to keep your child from stress and like I said, this is going to be a stressful time. Remember, however, that this time helps to prepare them for future success at college or in their career. This (like every other academic event) is just practice!
The right mindset is founded on faith and trust. Sometimes students get really stressed during these times because they have centered their identity on doing well academically. As parents this is a great opportunity to make sure that they understand that your love for them and God's love for them is founded on much deeper things than their academic performance. It is always a good thing to remind your children that you love them and that love is not founded on their midterms and finals performance. Faith also enters this time of preparation because at root when our children face challenges we want them to place their faith in Christ and to go forward with courage and trust that He is walking with us. Bathe this time in prayer and encourage your child to cast his anxieties on Christ because He cares for them (1 Peter 5:7).
Second, be humble and ask for help. If your child is really anxious, have him or her talk with their teacher about how to study for the test. Every teacher should be willing to help students who have a deep desire to maximize their time of preparation. Also, getting help or insight from an older sibling or friend can help students feel confident that they are studying the right material. If your child is younger, you, as their parent, might need to be the one contacting the teacher and asking the questions. Main point: when in doubt don't try to figure everything out on your own; ask for help.
Finally, remember the little things mean a lot. Don't cram. When big tests are coming, studying a little bit each night for the week preceding the test is much better than cramming. Get a good night sleep if at all possible on the day before the big test. Eat a good supper and have breakfast. Your body affects your ability to concentrate. Drinking a lot of coffee or soda to stay up late and study might help sometimes, but more often than not this actually harms rather than helps a students' academic performance.
Doing these things will not cause you to ace every test. It will, however, give your child the best chance to do his or her best.