Dear American Girl,

I'm having trouble in my math class. I understand the problems, do the homework, and study hard for the tests. But when it comes time for the tests, I freeze up. I try so hard to figure out the questions that I just get the answers wrong. My grades aren't good in that class. What can I do to improve?
-Not Adding Up

Here's your advice:

When I feel tense, everything I studied tends to fall out of my head. I suggest that when you start a test, do your best to relax. Take a breath, and then go for it. If you don't know an answer, come back to the question later. You might feel less stressed-out. Just be sure to answer the questions you left blank before you turn in the test.
-Lydia, age 12, Canada

I used to struggle with math tests, so my parents helped me get a tutor. She helped me a lot and gave me the confidence I needed to face those tests.
-An American Girl fan, age 11, Connecticut

I like to have a little something that I always do before I take a test. For you, it could be taking three deep breaths or putting a bracelet on the opposite wrist. Your little routine could make you think, I've done this many times before, and your stress might disappear.
-Rachel, age 13, New York

Try positive visualization. If I feel stressed as I'm taking a test, I imagine myself getting a good grade. If you put too much pressure on yourself, test taking will continue to be challenging.
-Abbi, age 10, California

Before you start a test, think about something that makes you laugh. Imagining something silly always relaxes me and makes me feel better.
-Rosalie, age 13, Pennsylvania

Clear your mind before a test. Are you mad at your sister about something? Or are you worried about something you said to a friend? Tell yourself that you'll deal with it later, and just focus on your test.
-Isabel, age 9, Oregon

Tell your teacher that you are struggling with taking tests, and he or she could give you some help. Don't be afraid to speak up. Teachers are there to help.
-Cam, age 11, Texas

Instead of freezing up in the middle of a test, take a breather by laying your head on your desk for about a minute. This always helps me. Try it and see if it works for you.
-Destiny, age 10, Virginia

Instead of putting tons of pressure on yourself for taking a test, try to imagine that you're just sitting and working on normal classwork.
-Ryanne, age 11, Colorado

Ask your teacher if she has any practice tests you could take ahead of time. Practicing before the test might calm your jitters and help you feel more confident.
-Maria, age 12, Texas

When you start to tense up, give yourself a pep talk. In your mind, say to yourself, I know I can do this. I worked hard! Even if I get this question wrong, it's not the end of the world. It might make you feel better.
-Lilly, age 10, New York

The night before a test, try to go to sleep early and have a healthy breakfast in the morning. That way, you'll feel fueled when you take your test.
-Claire, age 12, Virginia

Continue to study hard, and don't overthink things. Before you start a test, calm down and imagine that you're just doing your homework at home, sitting at your desk in your room. You might see an improvement when taking math tests.
-Madison, age 13, New York

Your brain might understand math, but when you have a test in front of you, you suddenly think, Oh no! A test! Tests are supposed to be stressful! When you get the jitters, it's harder to think straight. During your next test, remind yourself that you know the subject. And if you don't get a perfect grade, that doesn't mean you aren't smart. A lot of kids struggle with tests even when they know the concepts, so you're not alone. Try your best and r-e-l-a-x!
-Elle, age 12, Canada

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