Test Anxiety Scale
Test Anxiety Scale (Becky Osborne)
Many people experience stress or anxiety before an exam. In fact, a little nervousness can actually help you perform your best. However, when this distress becomes so excessive that it actually interferes with performance on an exam, it is known as test anxiety.
What does it feel like to experience test anxiety? You paid attention in class, took detailed notes, read every chapter, and even attended extra study sessions after class, so you should do great on that big exam, right?
When the test is presented, however, you find yourself so nervous that you blank out the answers to even the easiest questions. If this experience sounds familiar, then you might be experiencing test anxiety.
Test anxiety is a psychological condition in which people experience extreme distress and anxiety in testing situations. While many people experience some degree of stress and anxiety before and during exams, test anxiety can actually impair learning and hurt test performance.
Test anxiety is a type of performance anxiety. In situations where the pressure is on and good performance counts, people can become so anxious that they are actually unable to do their best.
Other examples of performance anxiety:
- A businessman freezes up and forgets the information he was going to present to his co-workers and manager during a work presentation.
- A high school basketball player becomes very anxious before a big game. During the game, she is so overwhelmed by this stress that she starts missing even easy shots.
- A violin student becomes extremely nervous before a recital. During the performance, she messes upon several key passages and flubs her solo.
Symptoms of Test Anxiety
The symptoms of test anxiety can vary considerably and range from mild to severe. Some students experience only mild symptoms of test anxiety and are still able to do fairly well on exams. Other students are nearly incapacitated by their anxiety, performing dismally on tests, or experiencing panic attacks before or during exams.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, symptoms of test anxiety can be physical, behavioral, cognitive, and emotional.
Physical symptoms of test anxiety include sweating, shaking, rapid heartbeat, dry mouth, fainting, and nausea. Milder cases of test anxiety can cause a sense of “butterflies” in the stomach, while more severe cases can actually cause students to become physically ill.
Cognitive and Behavioral Symptoms
Cognitive and behavioral symptoms can include fidgeting or outright avoidance of testing situations. In some cases, test anxiety can become so severe that students will drop out of school in order to avoid the source of their fear. Substance abuse can also occur since many students attempt to self-treat their anxiety by taking downers such as prescription medications and alcohol.
Many people with test anxiety report blanking out on answers to the test, even though they thoroughly studied the information and were sure that they knew the answers to the questions. Negative self-talk, trouble concentrating on the test, and racing thoughts are also common cognitive symptoms of test anxiety.
Test Anxiety Resources
Handout courtesy of Becky Osborne
Test Anxiety Scale
Scoring the Test Anxiety Scale
The total number of “True” answers is your test anxiety score. A score of 12 or below ranks in the low anxiety range. If that is your score, the chances are that you wouldn’t be extra stressed right now. A score of 12-20 ranks in the medium range. Any score above 20 signifies high test anxiety. Scoring 15 or greater is a good indication that you experience considerable discomfort about taking tests.
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