Taking Tests in School


"I was diagnosed with ADD, and struggle in school — and especially with test-taking. I end up failing exams because I get anxiety attacks and forget everything. What can I do?"

Dr. Larry Silver specializes in treating children with attention deficit disorder (ADHD).

Since nearly half of children, adolescents and adults with ADHD also have learning disabilities, it would be important to find out if you also have a learning disability. Yes, being inattentive or impulsive can interfere with test taking. So too can difficulty with reading comprehension, organization, memory, or being able to get your thoughts onto a page.

Discuss your problem with the person who diagnosed your ADHD. If your test problems are because of your ADHD, you should be on medication and your school should provide appropriate accommodations — for example, extended time on a test. If you also have a learning disability, you will need special educational help to learn to compensate for these problems.

Larry Silver, M.D., is clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and director of training in child and adolescent psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine. He is a former acting director and deputy director of the National Institute of Mental Health, as well as the author of Dr. Larry Silver's Advice to Parents on AD/HD and The Misunderstood Child: Understanding and Coping with Your Child's Learning Disabilities.
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