How to test for math anxiety in kids?

Last Updated on October 2, 2023 by Editorial Team

Math Anxiety is the panic and nervousness that ensues in a person while solving a mathematical problem. Math anxiety is related to performance anxiety and is likely to extend far outside of the classroom if not recognized and proactively managed.

Unfortunately, the Majority of cases of math anxiety remain unreported as symptoms may overlooked as a ‘general fear of exams’. Not enough research makes it extremely hard to differentiate its symptoms from a common exam fear. A 2014 report by the British Organisation National Numeracy showed that while 57 percent of U.K. adults were functionally literate, just 22 percent reached the level of functionally numerate. Math anxiety is said to be a major contributing factor to this. The numbers are concerning. hence, we gotta need more eyes on this.

In order to effectively test for math anxiety, we have three crucial steps to follow. The first one is to look for physical symptoms to self-test for math anxiety initially. The symptoms discussed will appear during exams (especially exams involving numerical, and arithmetic) or while solving a mathematical problem. The second one is to take the help of screener tools to look up developmental dyscalculia or any other math-related difficulty that may be contributing to the anxiety issues.

The third one is to take a quiz in order to get an idea about your math anxiety levels. Do note that although you can try this on your own but official diagnosis cannot be made out of this. The intervention of a professional expert in the field is required to confirm a diagnosis. Do consult a qualified special education worker to do a full evaluation if you feel like you’re dealing with math anxiety.

Check for early math anxiety symptoms

General symptoms to look for in individuals with math anxiety

  • Excessive worrying about a class test or exam related to maths. Students may seem unnecessarily worried.
  • Students with math anxiety tend to feel inferior among peers. They never expect to know the answer to the math question. The student may feel embarrassed when confronted with a math task in class and will hesitate to ask a doubt to the teacher.
  • Individuals with math anxiety will make every attempt to avoid maths.
  • Individuals with math anxiety generally make unrealistic, over-critical statements about themselves whenever they feel anxious. They demoralize themselves for not putting in enough effort.
  • Difficulty in concentrating on the subject.
  • Physically observable symptoms, such as dry mouth, sweating, rapid heartbeat, and restlessness, may appear while giving math tests.

Specific tests for math anxiety

Unfortunately, No particular protocol is available at the moment to screen for math anxiety. However, A systemic approach needs to be followed to look for it. It is required that we be sure that math plays a major role in bringing such notions to students. The level/severity of math learning disability needs to be analyzed as well. That said, the following screening tools are helpful in giving such insights.

1. KeyMath–3 Diagnostic Assessment

KeyMath-3 tests the understanding of mathematical concepts and skills. Knowledge of Addition, subtraction, and other numerical facts is administered. The problems asked in the test are presented by linking math with real-world contexts using items that require standard and non-standard problem-solving strategies. The result gives an insight into the strengths and weaknesses of a child in the subject. It helps in discovering which specific part of it triggers the anxiety issue and what steps could be taken to reduce it.

2. Test of Mathematical Abilities (TOMA-3)

TOMA-3 is used to identify, describe, and quantify mathematical deficits in school-age children 8 to 18. Students are tested on math concepts like word problems, computation, and math symbols. The ability of a child to use mathematics in relation to everyday life is tested. Attitude towards math is also analyzed. Students are asked to express their attitudes about mathematics instruction and their self-perceptions regarding their own abilities and achievements.

Take A Quiz

To self-test the possibility of math anxiety, take the quiz below that involves 10 scenarios related to your interaction with mathematics. Consider how you’d feel in any of these situations — from no big deal to a severe panic attack — and then pick the option that best describes you. Credit for this quiz goes to Professor Freedman, An expert on math anxiety. You can check out her official site to learn more about her take on this issue.

Welcome to your Math anxiety quiz

I cringe when I have to go to math class

I am uneasy about going to the board in a math class.

I am afraid to ask questions in math class.

I am always worried about being called on in math class.

I understand math now, but I worry that it's going to get really difficult soon.

I fear math tests more than any other kind.

I don't know how to study for math tests.

It's clear to me in math class, but when I go home it's like I was never there.

I'm afraid I won't be able to keep up with the rest of the class.

1 thought on “How to test for math anxiety in kids?”

  1. I am really creative person, but struggle with dyspraxia, dyslexia and dyscalculia. I can’t see numbers at all I never understand questions . My mind goes blank I feel confused gives me headaches. I would like to be a textile tutor for older people in the community. I have tried to learn maths gcse twice. I tried functional skills once as well. Its a major obstacle. Oh the struggles of being a creative. You need maths to train as a teacher. Or maybe I should just be online person . I hate having the memory issues and not seeing sequences. soo frustrating.

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