(NOTE: I tried to make this post gender neutral, but it was just too clunky. I'm going to use the masculine gender in this post, but that doesn't imply that the student in question was male.)
I had a student come to me today during a break to ask for some assistance. This student said that he had test anxiety, and while he thinks he knows the material he just clams up during tests and quizzes.
Here's the good news. Instead of asking me to accommodate his fears, he asked how I thought he might overcome them.
I love it when students ask how they might improve, instead of how I might enable whatever condition they think they possess.
I gave him a couple of pointers. First, knowing the material well is the surest way to avoid such anxiety. He wouldn't stress over a test of the multiplication tables because he's expert; personally, I think test anxiety is more a crisis of self-confidence than anything else. Know the material, and there's no reason to be nervous.
Second, I told him that I don't believe in trick questions or problems that no one can solve. Yes, I'm capable of creating a test that everyone would fail, but that's not how I operate. I teach material, and then test what I teach. The fact that the quiz problems were from the chapter review from the textbook was further evidence of my being "above board" when it comes to fair assessments.
Lastly, I encouraged him to see me before and after school if he has questions on the material so that he can develop that mastery (and self-confidence) in the material. Additionally, he can ask me clarifying questions during a test or quiz.
Who would not want to help a student who asked for assistance the way this student did? Isn't that the type of question every teacher hopes for?