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The proper APA Style reference for this manuscript is:
VOGEL, H. L., & COLLINS, A.L. (2002). The Relationship Between Test Anxiety and Academic Peformance. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 5. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved September 25, 2023 .

The Relationship Between Test Anxiety and Academic Peformance
Missouri Western State University DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY

Sponsored by: Brian Cronk (cronk@missouriwestern.edu)
This study investigates the effect of test anxiety on academic performance. It is believed that students with high test anxiety as well as those students with low test anxiety will have lower academic performance. Therefore, those students with moderate levels of test anxiety will perform the best. Two Psychology 101 classes were given identical quizzes. One class took a pop quiz while the other class took a planned quiz. The participants then completed test anxiety surveys. The quiz grades were then compared to the survey scores in order to determine if high and low anxiety groups perform lower than moderate anxiety groups. No difference was found on whether pop quizzes produce more anxiety than planned quizzes. There was also no difference in quiz grades between the two groups. Therefore, academic performance was not found to be related to test anxiety.

Spielberger and Sarason (1989) define test anxiety as a situation-specific trait that refers to the anxiety states and worry conditions that are experienced during examinations. The level of anxiety can fluctuate over time in response to both internal and external stimulation. Observable behaviors of anxiety can be noticed during the completion process of a quiz. Some of those behaviors might include perspiration, excessive movement and questioning of instructions. Those behaviors are often compatible with the classification of high and low test anxiety groups (Smith, 1965). There are also stable individual differences in the degree to which anxiety is manifested in any given situation. A disruption or disorganization of effective problem-solving and cognitive control, including difficulty in thinking clearly, can also lead to test anxiety (Freidman & Bendas-Jacob, 1997). There are different factors that contribute to the development of test anxiety. One factor is self-concept, which is the overall sum of self-referent information that an individual has processed, stored and organized in a systematic manner (Spielberger & Sarason, 1989). The self-concept can be viewed as an image of oneself. Worry of suffering a reduction of the self-image, particularly in the eyes of peers, leads to higher test anxiety levels (Freidman & Bendas-Jacob, 1997). Another factor that contributes to the development of test anxiety is self-awareness. It is defined as the feeling of being observed or evaluated by others. Other peopleís perception of the individual may have an impact on performance (Levitt, 1980). A more commonly recognized factor of test anxiety is the classroom climate. People, in general, have the need to manipulate and control their surroundings in order to produce a comfortable environment. In a classroom setting, however, there may not be the opportunity to control the surroundings. This opens the door to the possibility of different levels of arousal. The degree of arousal in relation to oneís adaptation level will determine whether a positive or negative affective experience will result (Spielberger & Sarason, 1985). If an individualís experience is negative, then the test anxiety level will be higher leading to lower performance. Consequently, if an individualís experience is positive, then the test anxiety level will be lower leading to higher performance. Overall, it is important to consider motives, aptitudes, cognitive assessments of the task, and past experience when analyzing test anxiety and how it relates to performance (Smith, 1964). Test anxiety in general is expected to have a negative effect on performance (Smith, 1964). Administration of quizzes arouses anxiety, which interferes with performance. Planned quizzes should lead to higher quiz grades. This is due to the assumption that with planned quizzes, participants will be able to study, which could counteract their anxiety level and bring it down to a more productive state. ďPopĒ quizzes, therefore, should lead to lower quiz grades. Without fair warning, participants will have higher anxiety levels, which can interfere with their performance and lead to lower quiz grades. Neutral conditions can have very similar effects as high test anxiety conditions on quiz performance. This could due to the possibility that stressful testing conditions arouse high anxiety, which in turn arouses defensive processes and prevents the person from acknowledging the anxiety (Smith, 1965). Therefore, the participants in the stressful condition will have a similar experience as the participants in a neutral condition and the quiz grades should be comparable.


The participants consisted of 62 college students enrolled in two Psychology 101 courses at Missouri Western State College. There were 51 females and 11 males ranging in age from 18 to 40 with an average age of 22.

The conditions consisted of a quiz that was given to two separate classes (see Appendix A). One class received a pop quiz while the other class received a planned quiz. The quiz was selected from the textbook used in the Psychology 101 class and was on the topic the students were studying. Immediately after the quiz was completed, a test anxiety survey was administered to each student (see Appendix B). The survey was used to measure the level of anxiety the students had while completing the quiz.

Two Psychology 101 classes taught by the same professor were given identical quizzes. In order to create a differing level of anxiety, one class was told that a quiz would be given in the following class period while the other class was not told that a quiz was scheduled. After the quiz was completed, a survey was handed out to each student. The survey was used to determine the level of test anxiety each student had while completing the quiz. After the surveys and quizzes were collected, the students were debriefed about the true intentions of the quiz in order to remove any lingering anxiety. Each quiz was then graded with an answer key provided by the professor. The surveys were then analyzed to determine whether the groups had high or low test anxiety. The quiz scores were compared to the test anxiety scores to determine whether the test anxiety had an effect on quiz grades.

An independent-samples t test was calculated comparing the mean survey score of participants who were in the pop quiz group and those that were in the planned quiz group. No significant difference was found (t(60)= 1.079, p=.285). The mean of the pop quiz group (m=41.533, sd=12.35) was not significantly different from the planned quiz group (m=38.56, sd=9.20).An independent-samples t test was calculated comparing the mean quiz score of participants who were in the pop quiz group and those that were in the planned quiz group. No significant difference was found (t(60)= -.146, p=.884). The mean of the pop quiz group (m=5.67, sd=2.17) was not significantly different from the planned quiz group (m=5.75, sd=2.30).

The results showed that high and low levels of test anxiety did not affect quiz performance. This finding is not consistent with what other researchers have found. Mandler and Sarason (1952) believed that high test anxiety interferes with test performance by impairing the performance, while low test anxiety helps to improve test performance. By using a Psychology 101 general studies course, the participants are mostly freshman and may have participated in the study simply for participation points. Therefore, the quiz grades may not accurately reflect the studentís success. It is uncertain whether the professor has regular quizzes scheduled for the class. If no quizzes are ever completed, the students may have known from the beginning that a study was being conducted. Therefore, they would all have low test anxiety and our results would be biased. Using more participants may have also provided the desired results. Test anxiety research has blossomed because tests are used more frequently and are much more important to students. This importance occurs as early as the pre-education level and continues clear through the college level (Rubin, 1999). It is important to research test anxiety in order to find methods of reduction and to improve academic success. Test anxiety is also related to self-esteem and to the fear of being negatively evaluated both by teachers and peers. Consequently, a method of reduction needs to be found for test anxiety. Future research on this topic could include a harder quiz which would produce higher levels of test anxiety. The study could also be completed in a regular academic setting in which quizzes are not uncommon. Different disciplines could also be studied such as biology or mathematics.

Friedman, I.A., & Bedas-Jacob, O. (1997). Measuring perceived test anxiety in adolescents: A self-report scale. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 57, 1035-1047.Levitt, E.E. (1980). The psychology of anxiety (2nd ed.). New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.Mandler, G., & Sarason, S.G. (1952). A study of anxiety and learning. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 47, 166-173.Rubin, S.I. (1999). The role of culture and other predictors in test anxiety. Humanities and Social Sciences, 60, 1452.Smith, C.P. (1964). Relationships between achievement-related motives and intelligence, performance level and persistence. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 68, 523-532.Smith, C.P. (1965). The influence on test anxiety score of stressful versus neutral conditions of test administration. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 25, 135-141.Spielberger, C.D., & Sarason, I.G. (Ed.).(1985). Stress and anxiety (Vol. 9). Washington: Hemisphere Publishing Corporation.Spielberger, C.D., & Sarason, I.G. (Ed.).(1989). Stress and anxiety (Vol. 12). Washington: Hemisphere Publishing Corporation.


1. A rhythm of activity and inactivity that last about a day is called A) biorhythm B) circadian rhythm C) diadromous rhythm D) Euclidean rhythm.2. The area of the brain know to generate a body`s circadian rhythm is the A) corpus collosum B) parietal lobe C) cerebellum D) suprachiasmatic nucleus3. The brain is highly active buy the large muscles are extremely relaxed during A) stage 2 sleep B) stage 4 sleep C) REM sleep D) all the above4. What kind of dreams do people most often report if they are awakened during non-REM sleep? A) dreams that are more emotional and fantasy-loaded B) dreams that recount the content of their most recent dreams C) dreams that are more common place and logical D) dreams that are more vivid than REM dreams5. The brain activity associated with REM sleep is most similar to that associated with A) stage 1 B) stage 2 C) stage 3 D) stage 46. According to activation/synthesis theory, dreaming is A) a manifestation of a person`s unconscious thoughts and motives B) your brain`s attempt to decrease PGO waves C) a time of memory consolidation D) your brain`s effort to make sense out of the spontaneous firing of the RAS7. Sleep apnea is a condition in which people have trouble A) remembering their dreams B) awakening in the morning C) breathing while they sleep D) staying awake during the day8. Sleepwalking occurs during A) stage 1 B) stage 2 C) stage 3 D) stage 49. Hypnosis is a condition of A) dominance of one person over another B) lack of brain activity C) increased suggestibility D) increased magnetic fields around the body10. Hypnosis was discovered by A) Mesmer B) Wundt C) Freud D) Calkins

Read each statement. Decide the extent to which you agree with it and circle the appropriate response for each item.1. My palms become sweaty prior to taking a test.STRONGLY AGREE AGREE UNDECIDED DISAGREE STRONGLY DISAGREE2. Prior to taking a test, Iím already convinced that Iím not going to do very well. STRONGLY AGREE AGREE UNDECIDED DISAGREE STRONGLY DISAGREE3. I never feel like I have enough time to complete a test.STRONGLY AGREE AGREE UNDECIDED DISAGREE STRONGLY DISAGREE4. I never feel like Iíve prepared enough for taking a test. STRONGLY AGREE AGREE UNDECIDED DISAGREE STRONGLY DISAGREE5. I feel like everyone around me expects me to fail on a test.STRONGLY AGREE AGREE UNDECIDED DISAGREE STRONGLY DISAGREE6. I am usually confident about taking a test.STRONGLY AGREE AGREE UNDECIDED DISAGREE STRONGLY DISAGREE7. When I take a test, I often forget the answers to questions I know the answers to.STRONGLY AGREE AGREE UNDECIDED DISAGREE STRONGLY DISAGREE8. My teacher is willing to help if I have a question on a test.STRONGLY AGREE AGREE UNDECIDED DISAGREE STRONGLY DISAGREE9. I rush to complete an exam because I donít want to be the last to finish.STRONGLY AGREE AGREE UNDECIDED DISAGREE STRONGLY DISAGREE10. When preparing to take a test, I feel like crying.STRONGLY AGREE AGREE UNDECIDED DISAGREE STRONGLY DISAGREE11. I am easily distracted by my surroundings when taking an exam.STRONGLY AGREE AGREE UNDECIDED DISAGREE STRONGLY DISAGREE12. My tests are usually taken in a relaxed environment.STRONGLY AGREE AGREE UNDECIDED DISAGREE STRONGLY DISAGREE13. My teacher continuously looks over my shoulder when Iím taking a test.STRONGLY AGREE AGREE UNDECIDED DISAGREE STRONGLY DISAGREE14. I get headaches prior to taking a test.STRONGLY AGREE AGREE UNDECIDED DISAGREE STRONGLY DISAGREE15. I find myself cramming for a test at the last minute.STRONGLY AGREE AGREE UNDECIDED DISAGREE STRONGLY DISAGREE16. Age: _______________17. Sex: _______________

Submitted 4/25/2002 11:59:51 AM
Last Edited 4/25/2002 12:48:35 PM
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