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.

Update, August 2021: thanks everyone, my son has successfully passed the exams (top 3%) and was accepted to the project.

  • Do you use process-based ("You must have worked hard on that") or personality-based praise ("You're so smart") with him? Science has found that there's a significant difference in outcomes between the two. parent.com/blogs/conversations/…
    – nick012000
    Commented Aug 5, 2021 at 3:57
  • @nick012000 the later. Thanks! Commented Aug 5, 2021 at 7:27

2 Answers 2


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.

  • 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! Commented Apr 18, 2021 at 8:48

As per your question It looks to me that only your son needs confidence.

In order to boost his confidence do I have talk, practice or remind him about exams: Not Necessary.

if Covid-19 restrictions are normal in your area take him out where he likes to go. (examples: Park, Fish house, Zoo, Movie ......)

Take two paper with you, one for your son and one for you, and lets create an exam environment. Let's say!

How many fishes you find, whose color are blue, green or etc and time duration is 20 minutes. or How many trees, in the park and time duration in 15 minutes. You can make more ideas like this.

While coming back to home, come back to real exam topic talk to him and boost his confidence.

Finally, at bed time tell him you can do it in 25 minutes. Your dad trust in you.


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