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ADHD at School

She knows ALL of the info for the test - Then BOMBS the test

My daughter is in 5th grade and has inattentive ADHD. This year in school had been the most challenging thus far. She is receiving therapy for graphomotor deficit, which makes it very hard for her to write just about any kind of short answer, let alone any type of short story. Her bigger problem this year is test taking. I can drill her the night before the test and she knows 100% of the subject matter. I even try to mimic the test. I have gone to the extreme of making a mock test for her and having her take it. She passes with flying colors every time. When she takes the real test at school the next day, she gets a “D” or worse! She receives special considerations at school, she takes the test privately, has extra time, the teachers prompt her to double check… Even after ALL of this has occurred, the scores are still failing! Anyone have any ideas???????


It is frustrating to know the material and then not be able to recall it when there is a test. 

One thing that happens is that under stress the mind starts to loses its ability to pull back information.  Blood flow to the pre-frontal cortex is restricted when stress hormones are produced. 

If she can learn how to relax - either meditation (breathing and relaxing) her recall should improve.

So, if in some way she is afraid of taking tests at school then perhaps there is an alternative way of having her take the tests (IEP, 505,

She may say, I’m not afraid of taking a test - and that would be at a conscious level.  Subconsciously she may remember the times she didn’t do well (and she expects to do well as does the teacher and her parents) - she is feeling the stress of expectation from others and the message that comes when you don’t do well - “How come you didn’t pass the test?” ... that only creates more stress.

Instead use empathy first, “It feels bad to know it and then not be able to remember it on the test doesn’t it.” 

It’s not that she isn’t trying or doesn’t know the material it is just the way the mind works under stress. 

If the learning material can be put into memory phrases or songs (rhyme’s or things that are easier to remember, recall may be better as well).

Posted by coachwithheart on Mar 15, 2014 at 9:21pm

Coachwithheart has very good suggestions. I especially like the learning to relax part. Breath control can make miraculous changes.
Recently I’ve begun using and recommending the app associated with .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). It helps with breath control and focus. I suspect that, if she were permitted to use earphones and play this at low volume, it would help her during the test taking. I do not know this for sure but it is worth trying.

Posted by John Tucker, PhD, ACG. ADHD Coach on Mar 15, 2014 at 9:46pm

I agree with above post.  Sounds like if she answered questions orally, then she’d do fine on the test.  This happened with our son. He only answered tests with one sentence answers, but gave tons of detail if asked about it orally. His teacher worked with us.  Make sure this accommodation is in her IEP.

Posted by staypositive on Mar 16, 2014 at 4:48am

Hi, my daughter’s teacher in 3rd grade gave her the same test at two different times of the day.  She did poorly on one and very well on the next.  She is on medication, so I don’t know if that played a role in it or not.  You may want to ask the teacher to try this out on your daughter.  Good luck.

Posted by staceyf on Mar 17, 2014 at 6:37am

How about a scribe?

Posted by MS on Mar 21, 2014 at 6:59am

I don’t know if this works but I keep trying to get my son
to re do the test whether he gets another copy from the teacher or just answers the questions again like it is the first time he is doing it.  He rushes through tests and makes small mistakes, but even when he has plenty of time to check it he doesn’t use it he just thinks
it is right and leaves it as is.  Maybe that would work although I do think doing it verbally would really help.

Posted by teddy123 on Mar 24, 2014 at 1:47am

Have you tried music? Its been working for my son. His Ipod and headphones during tests and homework have helped him tremendously.

Posted by adoptedadhd on Apr 08, 2014 at 12:29am

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