Reducing Elementary School Students’ Test Anxiety

Research-Based Questions to Guide Best Teaching

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Reducing Elementary School Students’ Test Anxiety

In our post, “Reducing Test Anxiety in Elementary School Children: Coloring Before a Test,” we look at the findings of Dana Carsley and Nancy L. Heath, who examined the effect of coloring before a test on elementary school students’ test anxiety. The authors argue that since test anxiety is the most prevalent form of anxiety among K-12 students, it is essential for teachers to find easy-to-implement strategies to help reduce student test anxiety. The results of their study reveal that having elementary school students color mandalas or color freely for 10-15 minutes before a test significantly reduced their test anxiety.

“[E]ducators should consider incorporating free draw/coloring activities in their classrooms for students.” – Carsley and Heath

While this is not a cure for students’ test anxiety, it has been shown to be an effective strategy that requires to additional teacher training and minimal class time.

Questions to Guide Educators’ Professional Development:

  1. Do teachers in your district/school discuss the prevalence of student test anxiety, even among students without IEPs?
  2. During what circumstances do teachers notice an increase in students’ test anxiety?
  3. What support systems are currently offered for students who have test anxiety?
  4. Do teachers in your district/school currently implement in-class / whole-class anxiety-reducing measures? If yes, what strategies do they use?
  5. Are teachers in your district/school aware of the research showing that having students color mandalas or color freely before a test reduces test anxiety? 
  6. In what ways can the district/school help teachers implement the coloring strategy?
  7. For what tests do teachers in your district/school think would be important to reduce student test anxiety?


  • Check out for tons of free mandala designs:
  • Teachers should provide coloring utensils and paper to make sure all students have access to the anxiety reducing strategy.
  • Have a group of willing teachers be the test-pilots to see how the coloring strategy can be smoothly implemented. These teachers can then share out at department or staff meetings.

Free Printable:

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