Test Anxiety and Midterms – Two Perspectives

Midterms are happening soon, and they are definitely on your students’ minds.  Here are two perspectives on midterms: one from a former student intern, who I will refer to as Intern E, and one from a former Deac mom.

Test Anxiety and Midterms: A Student’s Perspective – Written by Intern E. 

Almost everyone at Wake Forest has heard that frightening nickname, “work forest.”  I remember visiting the University during high school and asking anyone who would listen if it was true.  Once I became a student at Wake Forest, I was anxious going in to my first exam and found it terrifying attempting to conquer my first week of midterms.

Unfortunately, my fears panned out.  After taking my first exam in a subject I thought I understood, I was more than shocked to receive a low grade.  After all, I had studied all night and reviewed early on the morning of the test.  I left Tribble Hall feeling distressed and overwhelmed.

But breathe easy – my distress was short lived.  After a few takes at tweaking my study methods, I’ve learned the student-dubbed nickname, “work forest” isn’t so bad.   After bombing that first exam I scheduled a time to meet with my professor, and together we went over my notes and talked about study habits.  My professor showed me that while I memorized the right facts, I did not thoroughly understand concepts.  The latter simply was not possible after one night of cramming.

I have learned that the professors at Wake Forest are more than willing to help their students, and I try to ask for advice when I feel overwhelmed. Now I study in advance, stay organized using a planner, and work to avoid those ever famous all-nighters.  My grades have skyrocketed since that first exam, and I have found myself confident, rather than anxious, on test day.

So, when your child inevitably finds him/herself stressing out about a class, I urge you to remind him/her that no one performs at their best after cramming.  No one can function after two hours of sleep.  You shouldn’t wait until after a test to approach a professor if you’re having problems understanding course material.  Instead, encourage your child to take advantage of the accessible Wake Forest professors from the beginning, to stay organized by using a planner, to join a study group or visit the Learning Assistance Center, and to be willing to revamp their study habits from their high school ways.

College is harder than high school and many students have a hard time realizing that changes need to be made in their study habits.  As parents, remember to be supportive of your student.  Remember that the thirty second frantic call home is when your child feels the most overwhelmed.  There is still plenty of time, like the incident of my first disastrous test, to improve.  Your child should use the first few months of school to discover what it takes to succeed.  With support from home and Wake Forest’s many resources, your student will learn what works best.

Test Anxiety and Midterms: Deac Mom’s Perspective  

What do you do when your son or daughter who has only made A’s all through high school suddenly calls you in tears after receiving a C on a midterm grade?

When I received this tearful plea, I called the Office of Family Engagement for help.  They helped outline some of the options students have available in the event their midterms suggest they are having difficulty in a class:

Speak with the professor during office hours

Work with the Learning Assistance Center to evaluate their study habits and time management skills and look for ways to improve

Contact the Math Center, Writing Center, Chem Center for help

Form study groups with others in their class or with peers in the same course

But the Family Engagement staff also stressed the importance of letting your student take the lead.  As a parent or family member, you want to stay in the background and allow your student to solve his or her own problems.  Often just asking some probing questions about what your student can do is the only thing the student needs (“who have you talked to about this?” “are there any offices on campus that could help you?” “who might you ask who could point you in the right direction?”)

The faculty and staff at Wake Forest are dedicated to helping students.  That’s why they are here.  Help empower your students to reach out and seek that help if they need it.



To contact the Office of Family Engagement, please visit our contact page.

If Your Student Has a Problem

One of the best ways parents/families can help their students is to let them solve their own problems. Use the Stop, Drop, and Roll method when your student contacts you with a problem.  The flyer also lists contact information for serious concerns where family intervention might be appropriate.

Orientation 2017 slide shows

Select slide shows from Orientation sessions are available online.