Tips to help families cope with test anxiety this Stress Awareness Month

San Antonio – Students across the Alamo City are preparing for the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, between April 21 and 24. This latest round of high-stakes testing, known to increase anxiety levels for students and educators alike, happens to fall during National Stress Awareness Month.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, April is the designated time to unwind through relaxation and rejuvenation. That may seem easier said than done when students and parents are dealing with “STAAR Stress,” yet a childhood behavioral specialist with a local nonprofit is offering helpful tips.


“A major trigger for anxiety is the expectation that you won’t do well on the test,” says Dr. Priti Mody-Bailey, senior medical director at Community First Health Plans. “This is exacerbated with a lack of preparation and worry about failure when thoughts of past tests meet pressure to keep up with peers.

Study and tutoring combined with positive reinforcement in class and at home will go a long way to lowering anxiety levels, adds Dr. Mody-Bailey. More specifically, she suggests the following:

Home Preparation – It’s critical that parents communicate with teachers to know which academic subjects and tutoring techniques they can reinforce at home. Study early and often and practice testing strategies and memory techniques. By helping students, parents can instill confidence in children prior to test day.

Positive Atmosphere – Families can work together to prepare children for the testing environment and stress time-management techniques. During times of frustration, it’s important that families also make time for fun to unwind on the weekends and reward children for all their hard work during the school week.

Test Day Techniques – Even the most prepared students can suffer anxiety. Get a good night’s rest before a healthy breakfast, avoiding caffeinated drinks. Wear comfortable clothes and dress in layers. At school, don’t panic or worry about keeping up with classmates. Think of a peaceful place, take deep breaths and relax your muscles. Try not to rush through questions, but skip ones you don’t know then return to them if time permits.

Visit the Texas Education Agency website at to download STAAR test schedules.

Immediate Release - STAAR Stress Tips

About Community First Health Plans

CFHP was established in 1995 by the University Health System, specifically to provide health care coverage to the citizens of Bexar and the surrounding counties. As the only locally owned and managed, non-profit health plan in the area, CFHP’s commitment to our members is to provide great health care benefits backed by outstanding service, delivered by people who live right here in South Texas. Visit for more information.

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