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My son is in the 2nd grade (8 y/o) and at school, he doesn't have any exams at all yet.

He passed the first stage of a gifted education project, that would greatly help him if he gets into it. The first stage was several questions, but with no fixed time limit, so not a "real" exam.

However, the second stage consists of a real exam, with fixed time limit of about 30 minutes during which he must solve about 10 questions. He has no problem with the questions themselves, and during practice at home he has very few mistakes, however he's really stressed out about the time limit as he never had to do such thing before, and afraid he'll run out of time. At home, whenever we try to simulate the actual exam with the time limit, he gets a total blackout and can't even start.

We tried to explain that several minutes for each question are more than enough to think and find the correct answer, tried to explain he can skip hard questions and solve them later but nothing worked so far.

Any suggestions what else we can do? Would be pity to throw away a great opportunity over something like that.

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The first thing I’d ask is: is he putting this pressure on himself, or is he seeing your feelings on the matter and getting the pressure from there? If the latter - and it’s hard to imagine it not being some the latter - help him understand that it won’t change how you feel about him, and realistically it won’t change much about his future either. Nothing he does at 8 will have a major effect on his adult life! But that’s very hard to see as an 8 year old - he either feels no relation to the future at all (and so wouldn’t care) or, as seems likely, he feels everything is relevant, and can’t understand the middle ground (it has some value; but not that much).

Second; I’d remind him that time is not a big deal in the test. The only thing that time matters for if he can’t solve something, he shouldn’t stop on it - go on to the next problem, and then come back when he’s done to the leftover ones. That is easy to do and gets you the best score typically - if you get 8 easy ones done and then take your time on the last two, it’s likely you’ll get the best result.

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  • We did tried to explain the second paragraph to him, but with no success. As for the first, it might come more from the wife, yes. Good point about explaining him about the future and how it won't be affected, he might understand such thing and feel better. Thanks! – Shadow The Vaccinated Wizard Apr 18 at 8:48

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