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Test Anxiety Causes Students To Underperform In Examinations

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            Anxiety is one of the factors that affect students during examinations. Others factors includes unpreparedness, lack of skill in the specific course where the exam has been taken or some sort of health-related reasons.  There are several researches done and found that common alibi or shall we at least consider a reason for students who did not performed well in examinations that they got nervous or anxious during the exams. It is however important to stress that whichever of these factors present or maybe all of these in the student are taking the exams anxiety is a normal in humans.


            Anxiety is a psychological state of mind characterized by cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and physiological components (Campusblues, 2007) . A cognitive aspect pertains to the thoughts that run through your mind before, during, and after the dreadful incident. Emotional aspect includes the feeling that you experienced related to anxious events. This can be seen if a person is feel hatred or embarrassed. Another aspect of is behavioral rim of person. This pertains to unnecessary movements of a person when under stressed. Example of this is, circling of pen in fingers, drumming through the tip of fingers, and walking fast. The fourth aspect is about physiological. This kind of anxiety includes all the reactions of the body. This is very obvious whenever a student is suffering an anxiety. Probable reactions of the body are beating of heart faster, sweating intensively, drying of your mouth. All these components create a feeling of fear and worry. Anxiety is a common scenario where individual may experience heart palpitation, nausea, chest pain, shortness of breath and headache (King, 2007).

It has been a common alibi or shall we at least consider a reason for students who did not performed well in examinations that they got nervous or anxious during the exams. Underperformance in examinations however are results of several factors including unpreparedness, lack of skill in the specific course where the exam has been taken or some sort of health-related reasons. It is however important to stress that whichever of these factors present or maybe all of these in the student are taking the exams anxiety is a normal in humans (Spielberger, 2006).

Anxiety occurs in different perspective such as existential, stranger, palliative care and test anxiety (Foundation, 2007). The focus of this discussion will be test anxiety.  Test anxiety is very simple as think but most students are hardly suffering from it. People tends to take it for granted simply because they believe they can handle it  easily but for some individual test anxiety seems to be really important to discuss because they know how this such anxiety can trigger the mind of individuals.

Literature Review

AS Lufi et al. (2004) states that ‚Äútest anxiety affects people in every field of life, whenever people of all ages have to be evaluated, assessed, and graded with regard to their abilities, achievements, or interests.‚ÄĚ(p. 176). ¬†Zeidner (as cited in Chinta, 2007) claimed that stress is encountered, and likewise the extent to which stress is experienced, is dependent on the degree to which the situation is viewed as emotionally threatening (p. 177).¬†¬† Actually, anxiety is positively considered as helpful tool in boosting the human mind to perform at normal levels by keeping us alert, focused, motivated. Research indicates that the optimal amount of stress to maximize performance is a moderate degree.¬† Anxiety as a form of stress maximizes performance at normal level but negatively affects performance at either too low or too high levels. Further, physical symptoms of anxiety do not interfere with exam performance but what is going on in the mind of the one taking the exams (Palmer, 1998). Anxiety works in stressful situations as worries that interfere with concentration. But what are important to find out first are the causes or sources of anxiety

A research conducted showed that ‚ÄúStudents who experience test anxiety from the cognitive perspective are worriers lacking self confidence‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúthey may be preoccupied with negative thoughts, doubting their academic ability and intellectual competence‚ÄĚ (Sarason & Sarason, 1990, as cited by Harris, Henry L.; Coy, Doris R, http://www.ericdigests.org/2005-2/anxiety.html).

In addition, ‚Äútest anxiety is a major factor contributing to a variety of negative outcomes including psychological distress, academic underachievement, academic failure, and insecurity‚ÄĚ (Harris & Coy, 2003).


¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† The survey is conducted in three schools with students as participants in the survey. Questionnaire was given to students, 50 male and 50 females, a total of 100 participants. ¬†This is a ‚Äúfilling the blank type‚ÄĚ questionnaire. Questions pertains to the causes and effects of test anxiety among students and appropriate measures to reduce test anxiety .In addition, an observation was done to accurately confirm the answers given by the participants.

Sample Questionnaire

Name:                                                                                   Educational Attainment:



Causes of Test Anxiety:

Effects of Test Anxiety During Examination:

Measures To Eliminate Or Reduce Test Anxiety:

Results and Discussions

            Based on the survey, one of the major causes of test anxiety during examinations are unpreparedness and lack of skill. Some other factors include health related problems. As a consequence, according to survey, many students get failing grades. Test anxiety result in no concentration with the subject matter, increased heartbeat, increased sweating, cold hands, and dry mouth. It was also found that male usually experiences test anxiety, comprising to 75%.


            Before research is implemented, a survey must be conducted first among schools with lowest passing rate among examinations. Everybody has the capacity to pass in examinations with no test anxiety. Such school will practically reveal what are the attitudes and behaviors among students in schools. It is also advised to know polices and regulations of a school is implementing before, during and after examinations. Actions and rules among schools will, somehow encourage students to study harder.


            Test anxiety is already innate with us. Everybody may experience it. However, there are measure to control or minimize or even eliminate the causes and effects of test anxiety. Test anxiety affects students’ performance during examinations and in school, as a whole. Its effects impact on the grade levels of students. Managing test anxiety and perform actions against test anxiety before examinations will really eliminate or reduce it. However, it is a challenging role. Reducing test anxiety is not just an assignment among students but it must also be one of the major subjects to tackle among patents, teachers and schools administrators and counselors. We live in a challenging society, a test-taking society. Thus, test anxiety must be reduced or even eliminated.


Chinta, R. (2007) Influencers of exam performance: an empirical replication in the Middle

East. Journal of American Academy of Business, Mar 2007; 10, 2, 177. from ABI/INFORM  Global.

Hembree, R.(1988). Correlates, causes, effects, and treatment of test anxiety. Review of

 Educational Research, Spring 1988; 58, 1, 47. from Academic Research Library.

Lufi, D., Okasha, S., & Cohen, A. (2004). Test Anxiety and its effect on the personality of

students with learning disabilities. Learning Disability Quarterly, Summer 2004; 27, 3, 176.  from Proquest Education Journals.

Musch, J., & Arndt, B. (1999). Test Anxiety versus Academic Skills: A Comparison of Two

Alternative Models for Predicting Performance in a Statistics Exam. British Journal of Educational Psychology. March 1999; 69, 106-116. from Proquest Educational Journals

Palmer, D.(1998). Exam Anxiety. Centre for Student Development McMaster University,

Retrieved on August 05, 2007 from http://csd.mcmaster.ca/academic%20series%20pdfs/tests%20and%20exams/exam%20anxiety.pdf

Campusblues. (2007). Test Anxiety [Electronic Version]. Retrieved 14 September 2007 from http://www.campusblues.com/test.asp.

Foundation, T. N. (2007). What Is Test Anxiety? [Electronic Version]. Retrieved 14 September 2007 from http://www.kidshealth.org/teen/school_jobs/school/test_anxiety.html.

Harris, H. L., & Coy, D. R. (2003). Helping Students Cope with Test Anxiety. ERIC Digest [Electronic Version]. Retrieved 14 September 2007 from http://www.ericdigests.org/2005-2/anxiety.html.

King, J. (2007). Test Anxiety [Electronic Version]. Retrieved 14 September 2007 from http://www.uoregon.edu/~counsel/test%20anxiety.htm.

Spielberger, C. D. (2006). Test Anxiety Inventory [Electronic Version]. Retrieved 14 September 2007 from http://www.mindgarden.com/products/tsans.htm.

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