Q:

My son will be a freshman in high school next fall. He has always gotten good grades in math. Unfortunately, he is a terrible test taker and froze up on the math placement test. He has been placed in the lowest or next-to-lowest math class and will not be allowed to take algebra. I don't think this is fair, as he did well in the pre-algebra class. -- Mad

A:

A test score should not be the only factor in deciding who should take algebra. Hopefully, this is not the case at your son's school. If school is still in session, contact his pre-algebra math teacher at once and ask the teacher if your child is truly ready for algebra. If the teacher thinks he is, ask that he or she intercede so your son can take algebra in high school. If you can't contact the teacher, find out if the best time to talk to his high-school counselor about his math placement is now or just before school starts in the fall.

Just resolving the placement issue is not enough. Freezing up on tests is going to cause him a lot of trouble in high school. You need to help him reduce stress. Some techniques include: spacing out studying before the test, reading directions carefully, doing the simple questions first to build confidence, skimming the test to figure out how to pace himself and skipping questions he doesn't know. If his anxiety continues, he should ask the school counselor for help.