What can parents do to manage their high schooler’s stress level about standardized testing?

There are several basic things they can do that have a big impact in keeping their kids stress level down as they take exams.


Don’t project yourself onto your child.

Parents may feel that they themselves were stressed out when they took standardized tests, but they should try not to put their testing anxiety on their child.

Know the process.

Also! A student can take the test multiple times, and often schools will suppress the lower scores. Don’t approach test day like it’s doomsday if the process allows the child to take the test multiple times without penalty. It’s important to know that a test taker can cancel their score if they had a horrible day, whether they were sick, whatever. Parents need to know that to talk the student down a bit.

Cultivate a growth mindset.

A mistake is an opportunity to learn. The process is prolonged and requires deferring immediate gratification, which is hard for young people. Teach them that slow and steady wins the race.

Always act with dignity through the process.

The social drama surrounding the SAT and ACT can get intense. Parents should remind their student that when others ask, they don’t have to tell everyone what you got on the test, what their #1 school is, or if they’re taking it again. Don’t gossip about other people’s performance. Parents can start by being polite and private through the process so it doesn’t become socially challenging.