Test Anxiety Lesson Plan for Elementary School

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

What is test anxiety and how can we alleviate it? This lesson plan uses a guided discussion to teach elementary grade students about test anxiety. An activity helps students create a plan for preventing it.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to do the following:

  • define test anxiety
  • list the causes of test anxiety
  • discuss ways to prevent test anxiety


30 to 60 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Determine the main ideas and supporting details of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.


Ask and answer questions about information from a speaker, offering appropriate elaboration and detail.


Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.

Key Vocabulary

  • Test anxiety


  • Begin by asking students to take out a sheet of paper and a pencil.
    • Address students by saying, 'Okay, let's begin the test now. It is worth 100 points.'
  • Pause for a few seconds to gauge the reactions of the students.
  • Explain to the class that you were kidding and that there is no test. Looks of relief will likely wash over the faces of the students at this point. Now use the following prompts:
    • How did you feel when I announced there would be a surprise test?
    • Tests are known for causing stress or anxiety in students. How many of you have experienced 'test anxiety' in the past?
    • For those of you who have experienced test anxiety, what does it feel like?
    • How does test anxiety make your body feel?
    • How does test anxiety make your mind feel?
    • Does test anxiety make it harder to do well on tests? Why or why not?
    • Let's take a closer look at the causes of test anxiety.
  • Write the following sentences on the board:
    • I am afraid to fail.
    • I didn't study.
    • I'm bad at tests.
  • Ask the students to read each sentence aloud as a class. Mention that these three sentences represent potential causes of test anxiety. Ask the following:
    • How many of you can relate to one or more of the sentences?
    • What could we do to reduce the fear of failure?
  • On the board, write the students' ideas for reducing the fear of failure.
    • Now ask, 'How could we overcome the feeling of not studying enough?'
  • Again, write the students' ideas on the board.
    • Now ask, 'What could we do to get better at taking tests?'
  • Once again, write the students' ideas on the board for improving test-taking skills.
  • Review all of the points on the board before continuing.

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