Different Views About Test Anxiety Psychology Essay

Walter (2002) describes test as an intentional capacity to explore the interest level, information, ability and tasks achievement.

According to Cronbach, (1980) a test is an organized method for weigh against the behavior of two or more people.

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According to (Cronbach, 1980) A test is an organized method for weigh against the behavior of two or more people.

There are varieties of tests which include the following:-

1. Aptitude tests

2. Tests of developed abilities

3. Achievement tests

4. Mental ability tests

And much other kind of tests are prepared and organized to evaluate the students’ abilities and academic performance.

Aptitude tests are organized in order to look for the talent and passion of the students in the required field. Tests are also conducted for the skills to check that had been taught, on the other hand achievement tests are required to ,,,,,,,.

Definition of Anxiety:

Cohen, (1981) stated Anxiety as a basic human passion that was acknowledged even before 5000 years ago ,whereas The British poet W. H. Auden called the 20th “the age of anxiety”.

Crooks and Stein (1988) say that Anxiety is described as feelings of worry, hesitation, nervousness and fear that go along with the commencement of the sensitive nervous system that arouses bodily changes like blood pressure, fast heart beating, perspiration, cramps etc.

Test anxiety

These days’ students are facing number of problems and one of the common problems faced by students is tests that cause anxiety. When students are afraid and feel that they will not be able to perform good in their exams that is test anxiety.

Test anxiety is a major problem of students at undergraduate level. Students frequently undergo with anxiety that hold up students learning and test taking abilities to the level that students academic performance is affected badly. Students might have prepared efficiently and competent enough to take test but cognitive anxiety engages students in anxiety provoking thoughts such as fear of failure, or wish to do extraordinarily good, they perform poor.

Every student want to score good in their exams.students works hard and puts in their efforts to attain their goal.few of students gets reward in terms of good academic performance and results for their efforts they have done but other students don t care about it.hence teachers and counselors making great efforts to help out their students to improve their grades and CGPA’s.

(Roberts & Saxe, 1982) says that Anxiety influence people in different ways and situations. In educational environments, anxiety might have significant negative impact on cognitive performance, (Tremblay, Gardner, & Heipel, 2000) presentation and achievement, (Lalonde & Gardner, 1993) knowledge.

Tests plays significant part in our everyday life. An important fact that tests have proven to raise strong anxiety and test anxiety has turned out to be a common modern problem (Spielberger & Vagg, 1995; Sarason, 1959)

Aderson, (2002) says Test anxiety is describes as a kind of anxiety of performance, a sensation that student have for the coming test, in which performance is essential to the person.

Definition of test anxiety

According to Zeidner, (1998) the set of physiological, phenomenological and behavioral retorts which go with related possible negative failure or results on a test or alike evaluative circumstances is called anxiety.

Sarason, (1988) stated that Anxiety is a natural emotion which has fear and uncertainty that usually happens when a person feels any threat that will hurt his ego or self esteem.

“Set of phenomenological, physiological, and behavioral responses that accompany concern about possible negative consequences or failure on an exam or similar evaluative situation”(Zeidner, 1998, p.17).

Goonan (2003) stated test anxiety as

“test anxiety differs from general feelings of anxiety ,it is a specific form of psychological disorder that involves extensive amounts of fear, worry and fear of negative evaluation during or in anticipation of performance or evaluative situations”(p.4).

It has been defined by many authors, like Dusek (1980) Defined test anxiety as

“An unpleasant feeling or emotional state that has physiological and behavioral concomitants and that is experienced in formal testing or other evaluative situations.”(p.88).

Manifestations of anxiety:

(Cohen, 1980), has given us four manifestations of anxiety, given as under:

Somatic – in physical responses

2 – Affective – in emotions

3 – Cognitive – in thoughts

4 – Motor – in actions

In cognitive manifestations, it might fluctuate from little worry to fear. Brutal assault could take passion of awaiting disaster, obsession, faces difficulty in sleeping, lack of attention and taking decisions,

In motor manifestation, behaviors are frequently exaggerated, worried students shows arbitrary actions that vary from trembling to shaking of the whole skeleton. Complete variety of behaviors like agitation, squirming, fits, nail biting, lip biting, and nervousness could be seen.

In somatic changes,changes might come like trivial breathing, dry mouth, cold body, urination, heartbeat, blood pressure. cramps.etc

(Antonovsky, 1980).say that Affective domain is the prominent anxiety manifestation. In this situation, students feel persistently nervous and anxious about threats, regardless of the fact that’s things are going fine. Psychomotor and academic mistakes, mental performance, that can divert attention and remembrance, and all this occurs due to anxiety which has horrible impacts. However, it is stated by some psychologists verify that anxiety provide motivational purpose

Facilitating and Debilitating effects of test anxiety.

Meichenbaum & Butler(1980) commented about the difficulty and complications of test anxiety and how it influence the students performance:

“We think test anxiety is more than physiological arousal, more than negative self preoccupation, more than poor study habits, and more than a deficit in stress-related coping skills. In fact, we think it is more than a combination of these factors” (p.188).

According to Hill & Wigfeild (1984) say for many studies have been conducted on the consequences created by test anxiety on student’s performance. In addition, the connection between performance and anxiety is very significant and composite.

Scovel, (1978) have explained two types of anxiety :

Facilitating anxiety

Debilitating anxiety

Scovel (1978) further defines these two types of anxiety and says that facilitating anxiety arouses students to confidently handle the problems and troubles, and to welcome the challenges that come forth. Whereas debilitating anxiety seems to damage students learning results and weakens the required confidence.consquently students affected by debilitating anxiety seems to think inactively and shun failure. Students have Facilitating effects and debilitating effects due to test anxiety describes above.

Tryon,(1980) says that Debilitating impact of test anxiety on learning in different cases seems to have spoiled the performance in tests due to test anxiety. Students come across with these debilitating impacts in various forms which damages the students performance in different ways, by worry, hesitation, disbelief and by dropping contribution

Models of Test Anxiety

There are two models of test anxiety that increases the spectrum of test anxiety. Two models were developed to report the causes of test anxiety.

The interference model

The skill deficit model.

The Interference Model

In interference model (Wine 1980; Sarason 1986) says that students having high levels of test anxiety hinder the capacity to recollect the learned information.

Interference model covers the Cognitive feature of test anxiety. Benjamin et.al., (1981) described that students have definite ability of processing data and test anxiety may hinder students concentration to use their energy on the retrival of material that they have learned in the testing situations.

When the test anxiety will reach to its peak, it will absorb the students processing ability, which will take up the ability that is needed for the tasks. When students don’t have the ability of cognitive processing they needed on the spot, it means that the ability has been taken up by the anxiety that interferes learning.

Sarson (1984) says that “A cognitive interference may be the key factor in lowering the performance of highly test anxious people” (p.931).

Tobias (1980), says that as students are influenced by cognitive test anxiety, which results in to distract their attention and requires more ability to utilize educational skills. Therefore such kinds of reasons are ascribed to students feeling anxious and it might reduce student’s performance.

Learning is not a problem rather interference with recovery. Wine (1980) says that students having high test anxiety among cognitive ability among giving attention to the task and the attention is given to the cognitions that are not relevant with the task.

Both of these factors hinder the capacity to recall and confined the capacity to employ in organized thinking . These points might give description why students by high test anxiety can normally do better on objective/MCQ than on subjective exams where the earlier needs to recall less.

Benjamin et, al., (1981) and Tobias (1985) experienced that capable and intelligent students might have done their preparation, yet they will encounter high test anxiety, that confine the thinking process, hinder recalling materials and inhibit to use the techniques to perform well on test.

The Skills deficit Model:

Hill & Wigfield’s (1984) skill deficit model does not have any direct relationship with test anxiety at first look. Though it tells what activate and produces test anxiety. It permits to know the connection of skill deficit model of test anxiety and poor academic performance. Rather believing that ability to recover data is affected due to interference model, skill deficit model have different point of view.indeed, this gives us the view that student’s poor academic performance is ascribed with the poor test preparation in learning skills or due to lack of test taking abilities.

Hill & Wigfield (1984) proposed that the skill deficit model offer reasonable explanation on unforeseen performance of student’s .the skill deficit model engages two kinds of deficits that endanger the performance of the students, one of them is Learning ability and the second one is Lack of test taking ability. Poor results in academics performance is due to Unsatisfactory preparation before tests came, causes.in addition acquisition problems,problems in remembering and memorizing or retrieving data at initial place. Whereas lack of ability to attempt the test also put in high test anxious students to perform poor ,although students are conscious of their inability of taking test.

The skill deficit model says that students with high test anxiety faces problems in learning and arranging learning materials and that gives poor results in performance. (Tobias 1985 ; Naveh -Benjamin, McKeachie and Lin 1987; Birenbaum and Pinku 1997).

In spite of, giving different explanations, the skill deficit and interference models may be balancing for each other(Tobias 1985; Birenbaum and Pinku 1997 ).they have suggested different kind of students in addition with different levels of test performance.

Students having good learning and organizing abilities, together with low test anxiety ought to do good as they have learned the tests and they do not come across with the difficulty to recall. Whereas other students have the capacity and they learn the test but could not recall in evaluative situations and settings, and when tasks requires more cognitive capacity than they have. yet other fall short to learn and organize materials that’s why they perform poor whether they are in test situation and test design.

Most of the researchers who hold this model (e.g. Wittmaier, 1972; Desiderato & Kokinen, 1969; Culler & Holahan, 1980) say those students who show poor academic performance are because of their bad study habits and lack of interest in preparing for their exams. These kinds of students are conscious enough of their study behavior that’s why they don’t expect good results. These kinds of attitudes amplify anxiety which results in poor academic performance. When students see their academic skills are in enough, they feel anxious and show poor performance.

Levels of Test Anxiety:

Swanosn and Howell (1996) define the three levels of test anxiety given as under:

Low levels test anxiety

Moderate test anxiety

High test anxiety

Spielberger and Sarason,( 1989) further states about the high level test anxiety that helps in the growth the students with low inspiration, lacking academic abilities, lacking use of different techniques for taking test, hopelessness, cheating, carelessness, and thinking negative about himself and lack of attention. It is said students with both high and low levels of test anxiety show good academic performance whereas students with moderate anxiety level perform well.

Spielberger and Sarason,( 1989) view and identified three levels of test anxiety .John and Kenneth (1982) says ,students with high level test anxiety badly get in the way with all kinds of performances,and normally students with moderate and low level anxiety helps in improving performance.

Components of Test Anxiety

(Sarson & sarson, 1990) has stated three main components:




Cognitive component:

In cognitive view, students having test anxiety due to absence of self confidence.they are surrounded by negative feelings, and feeling incapable of their educational ability

and academic skills.(Zeidner, 1998) adds and says, students mostly exaggerate the possible negative results and undergo self-reliant in testing situations. if students want to have good results they should avoid negative thinking.

Affective component:

In affective view, (Zeidner, 1998) Test anxiety raise some physiological reactions like, fast heart beating, nausea, urination and raises perspiration, stretching of muscles, feeling thirsty, shivering and cold hands. With physiological reactions, emotions like failure threat, worry, might be there. When students are fail to manage their emotions, they feel pressure, tension, fear, thus create more hard and tricky for students to focus.

The bodily signs that students feel when they are going through anxiety are linked with the supposed responses to fear and tension. Important physical functions like heart beating, breathing, or rapidity of other body functions, saliva secretions, flow of blood. Students undergo different kind of physical feelings together with nausea, vomiting, cramps in body, feeling dizzy, shivering, and stiffness of joints.

Behavioural component:

Behaviorally test anxious student’s states anxiety through reluctance and ineffective learning and test taking ability. Zeidner (1998) says that might test anxious students take more time and problem in assessing information or feel tired during test because of weak students or they are weak in health.

State and Trait Anxiety:

Spielberger(1972-1983),gave the concept of state and trait anxiety .He described state anxiety as

“Transitory emotional state or condition of the human organism that is characterized by subjective, consciously perceived feelings of tension and apprehension, and heightened autonomic nervous system activity.”

Spielberger further states about trait anxiety that

“Trait anxiety denotes relatively stable individual differences in anxiety proneness and refers to a general tendency to respond with anxiety to perceived threats in the environment.”(48)

School psychologists have been using state and trait anxiety in 21st century which was introduced by Spielberger in 1972.State anxiety means when horrible feelings and emotions of fear are aroused in danger, whether mentally or bodily. State anxiety is assumes a cognitive insight and judgment of danger, so as to students should know at a stage that particular situation is dangerous. Normally youngsters undergo less anxiety once they are out of hectic occasion is gone. On the other hand, trait anxiety is characteristic of a personality, an ability to encounter state anxiety when came across any difficult situation and danger. but this is different and varies from person to person. Eysenck and Eysenck (1991) describes that high level trait anxiety is strongly associated to neuroticism

Terry (1998) tells about the numerous symptoms that shows students test anxiety. following is the symptoms of test anxiety.

Emotional reactions such as crying, sensitive hair trigger responses, irritability, excess giggling, sudden changes of expression and general unrest.

Bodily manifestation – like stomach aches, headache, urination, fatigue, abundant sweating.

Dangerous behaviors, like, carelessness, and self defamation.

Anxious symptom, such as edgy marks, biting nail, too much blinking, hair chew, finger sucking, swinging action.

Misconduct and violence, like breaking pencils, shows anger, slangs language is used, fighting, hounding and destructiveness.

Bad exertion routine, for example, day-dreaming, incompetence, dishonesty and absence of attention.

Looking for attention: adolescent behaviors, looking for appraisal and positive remarks, demands for attention, construction of weird stories, nonstop curiosity and asking about things around, stick to the teacher, performing.

Causes of test anxiety:

On the self-defeating consequences of subjective cognitions (Ellsworth & Smith, 1988; Lazarus, 1991) suggest that poorer self-beliefs are a major cause of test anxiety.

“Perceive examinations as more dangerous or threatening and experience more intense levels of state anxiety when taking tests” (Spielberger & Vagg, 1995, p.6).

D’ Arcylyness, (2004) outlined the following as the causes of test anxiety:

a. Lack of preparation by

1 Cramming the night before the test

2 Poor time management

3 Failure to organize test information

4 Poor study habits

b. Worry about the following:

1. Past performance on examination

2. How friends and other students are doing

3. The negative consequences of failure.

The effects of anxiety on different situations:

In different ways the anxiety influences on different kind of human beings. According to Roberts & Saxe, (1982) anxiety may affect cognitive functioning badly in any kind of academic setting. Lalonde & Gardner, (1993) includes that learning might be affected by anxiety where as Tremblay, Gardner, & Heipel, (2000) state that anxiety may affect on performance and success.

During specific situation when the manners of apprehension, tension and dread are perceived consciously, it is called General state anxiety which is also called physiological arousal (Endler & Kocovski, 2001). Wine (1980) says that the effects anxietyon performance is prominent because of having unbearable impacts on cognitive process.

Tremblay, (1998) argues that mostly people are affected through cognitive biases with General trait anxiety which is a firm tendency towards anxiety.Class and test anxiety along with statistics anxiety come into the vast umbrella of Trait anxiety in the view point of (Walsh & Ugumba-Agwunobi, 2002).

2.1 Cognitive Style

Thinking and perceiving, problem solving and remembering , all these types of actions are considered under the umbrella of cognitive style as has been described by McKay, Fischler & Dunn, (2003) as “are considered to be trait-like, relatively stable characteristics of individuals, whereas learning strategies are more state-driven…”

Cassidy (2004) states that there are many cognitive style typologies from which we give preference to Riding’s Cognitive Style Analysis [Riding,2001] because of more vital implications.

According to Sadler & Riding, (1999) construct of cognitive is more important whether learning style has less importance. The real mode of information processing, cognitive style and their mutual relationship is significant and strengthened to a large extent.

2.2 Cognitive Processing Efficiency

The cognitive processing parameters (Demetriou & Kazi, 2001; Demetriou et al., 1993]) that have been included in our model are:

a- Control of processing (to indicate the relevant and irrelevant information)

b- Speed of processing (speed in the given instruction might be accurately executed),

c- Working memory span (to hold and integrating different information till the solution of a problem)

d- Visual attention (based on the empirically validated assumption that when a person is performing a cognitive task while watching something).

According to Baddeley, (1992) all these tasks are measured in shortest possible time span while the working memory span test focuses on the visuospatial sketch pad sub-component and this all is done comfortably.

2.3 Emotional Processing

Emotional processing consists of two types:

Emotional Arousal:

The capability of human being to feel and experience specific emotional circumstances,

Emotion Regulation:

The process of having perception and control of individual over his emotions.

In the view point of Cassady (2004), anxiety is the major thing in the term of behavior which indicates the arousal of various kind of emotions and it has strong relation with academic performance.

Also, it is related with performance in computer mediated learning procedures (Chang, 2005; Smith & Caputi, 2007).

Users’ trait anxiety could be measured (Spielberger, 1983), and their “application specific” anxiety, which in the case of e-learning is named as Cognitive Test Anxiety (Cassady & Johnson, 2002)

In the term of construct of emotional regulation used by us also comes into the concepts of Emotional Control (emotional management, self-awareness, self-motivation)…… (Goleman, 1995; Salovey & Mayer, 1990), and Self – Efficacy (Bandura, 1994), Emotional Expression and Emotional experience (Halberstadt, 2005).

Lekkas et al, (2007) argues that we can evaluate the affectional responses of enhancing and lessening the learning abilities through measuring the levels of Anxiety with emotional regulation.

Factors of Test Anxiety:

According to competitive anxiety research (Gould et al., 1984; Burton, 1988). Cognitive (worry) anxiety factor has strong imprints on the achievement of the student then the somatic (emotionality) component.

Test anxiety has two main components described by Liebert and Morris (1967) that is worry and emotionality. Worry is conceived as cognitive importance related to tests and test performance. These concerns revolve in the region of negative cognitions, like fixation with the test results and performance. Strong negative penalties like failure, underachievement and evaluation of student’s skills to others.

Academic performance:

Phillips and Endler, (1982) say that Academic performance usually depends on students how they make their connections with the academic environment. It is believed that students who are intelligent will be relaxed and less threat full .But these students do have fear of examination.

Okebukola and Jegede, (1989) its teacher’s responsibility to prepare their students to show good academic results as well as to enable them to respond to different academic needs that has impact on academic performance.

Relationship between anxiety and academic performance:

Roberts & Saxe, (1982) say that Anxiety influences people in different ways and situations. In educational environments, anxiety might have significant negative impact on cognitive performance, (Tremblay, Gardner, & Heipel, 2000) presentation and achievement, (Lalonde & Gardner, 1993) knowledge.

Endler & Kocovski, (2001) stated that Common state anxiety is a physical stimulation and a deliberately supposed way of hesitation, fear, and stress through a particular moment. (Wine, 1980) describes that, this influence the performance as it has strong effects on cognitive course.

Tremblay, (1998) Cognitive biases influence people with common trait anxiety, a steady tendency towards anxiety. Than it have an effect on people who are not anxious.

According to Scovel (1978) there is a positive connection between performance and test anxiety. Test anxiety is in fact useful and facilitating as students remained alarmed and conscious. McDonald (2001) describes more connection between levels of performance and test anxiety that will show the arch like a reversed U figure, showing to the best anxiety point. It could be said that when anxiety reaches to the best quantity, it could produce constructive results known to us as facilitating test anxiety. This type and amount of anxiety is useful for students to give attention to their work, and feel himself completely challenged. In contrast, over and small test anxiety will produce tension, constant worry, anxiety and strain or students reluctance, will result in poor performance.

Test Anxiety in relation to gender (sex)

Research on student’s educational performance has received significant concentration. Number of researches had been done in the area on the level of anxiety on test anxiety between female and male students academic performance. Walsh, Engbreton and O’ Brien (1988) performed two researches at the same time to identify whether there is relationship between test anxiety and academic performance as it influences the gender. Researcher collected the data and the Sample were consists of (57 females – 46 males,) and total 103 undergraduate students for first research and (52 females – 42 males) and total 94 undergraduate students for the second research. Test anxiety findings were correlated with the students Grade Point Averages (GPA’s).

When the data was analysis, there was negative correlation present between test anxiety and academic performance. Thus negative relationship was found which was more for females and less for males.

Daniels and Hewitt (1987), finds if there is correlation between academic performance and test anxiety with gender view. The sample was composed of data (21 males – 27 females) and got their scores of test anxiety.

When data was examined, it was found that females had high test anxiety as compared with males however they didn’t find any major variation of gender in respect of the negative correlation between academic performance and test anxity.it means,that test anxiety has unpleasant effects on academic performance but it didn show any major affect of one gender more than the other. The findings have shown that females undergo high test anxiety as compare to males when measure their test anxiety ,like wise Sarason (1987),Spielberger(1980) and taylor (1998) have found that females have scored high mean score on test anxiety when compared with males.

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