I would encourage you to take him to a neuropsychologist, as his fear of exams could be due to a slower processing speed inhibiting him from retrieving learned information quickly. He could have developed secondary anxiety due to his inability to perform as well as he knows he should. It would be important to get him tested because if he does have a cognitive component present, he will need this documentation to allow accommodations to be placed to give him extra time for exams.
I hope this helps!
Brandi Buchanan, PhD
Dr. Bill Golden
Good luck to you and to him!
Marian Kaplun Shapiro
Please bear in mind this answer is for informational purposes only and does not constitute treatment.
If your son has always been an anxious test taker, then perhaps this is not so unusual for him. As students get older, they often become more aware of the relative importance of high-stakes exams. He may just be talking about the exams more now that he is aware of them.
If, instead, this seems like a big change for him, then maybe something is up that needs your help. Your son may be aware he is academically struggling more recently and is concerned this will be highlighted by the exams. Some states have certain years that are exam-heavy, so this may be more intense than prior grades.
I would suggest you talk to your son and mention you noticed his worries and concerns. You can also contact his school and speak to his counselor, teachers (and maybe the school psychologist) to talk about his concerns. Ask them if they see indications whether he is likely to do well or have a hard time with the state exams. If your son or his teachers express serious concerns, then it could be time to look into having him talk with a psychologist about the worries. A psychologist that is experienced with teen anxiety and academic concerns would seem to be ideal. Licensed psychologists who are also certified school psychologists, or use NCSP as part of their credentials, are likely to be familiar with this area of practice.
You can also talk with his school about any supports they can put in place, like tutoring or academic coaching or groups for anxious students, to help him manage and overcome the fear. If his teachers have very significant concerns about his academic performance, then an educational evaluation from the school to better understand why he is struggling could also be very helpful.