The Causes of Test Anxiety essay

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Testanxiety is a common problem that students experience before takingexams. The experience is marked with a feeling of stress that ismanifested by symptoms such as sweating, shaking, increasedheartbeat, stomach upset as well as headaches. Anxiety is a seriousproblem that can affect the performance of a student irrespective ofhis or her academic level. The condition may result from variouscauses, including, lack of proper preparation before an exam,previous experience of failure and, most importantly, fear offailure. The effect of test anxiety is very serious because itsignificantly affects the performance of a big percentage ofstudents. As such, there are concerns about this phenomenon not onlyin the United States but also all over the world. Differentapproaches have been put in place to deal with the experience. Amongthe measures that students can take, include studying for examsahead, having a positive attitude towards assessments, joining peergroups for motivation as well as attending guidance and counselingclass. These measures assist in boosting the students’ self-esteem,as well as, improve their understanding on the causes of anxietyduring tests. This paper will focus on the causes of test anxiety andthe solutions towards the problem.

Test anxiety is a feeling of stress or disturbance, which ischaracterized by sweating, shaking, stomach upsets, increasedheartbeat, and headaches (Freeman, Gittins, Pugh, Antley, Slater, &ampDunn, 2008). In this case, students experience “butterflies in thestomach,” which is a colloquial term for anxious reactions beforetaking a test. Exam nervousness is common among students, and itoccurs even among the most experienced ones from high school tocollege (Cizek&amp Burg, 2006). The paper explains the essentialityof the need to have an understanding of the causes of test anxietyand ways of reducing the panicky reactions that students encounterbefore doing tests.

The test fear can be either physical or mental depending on thereaction of an individual. In most cases, the psychological state ofthe student affects their physical composition, which in turn resultsin substandard performance or examination failure. Experts providethat test anxiety differ based on various reasons such as the natureof the test, individual student and the class environment. As such,parents, teachers, and students need to learn about the causes ofanxious reactions towards examinations and their overall implicationson a student’s grades (Freeman et al., 2008).

Causesof Test Anxiety

Fearof Failure

One of the notable causes of test anxiety is the dread of failure.Some students do not react well to taking tests despite their levelof excellence or understanding of the topic at hand. Cizekand Burg (2006) provide that&nbspanxiousreactions affect the grades of 45% of the students who sit for examsin the United States. For instance, an exam can account for 60% ofstudents’ overall grade. Therefore, if the students fail either themidterm or the final exam, it may have a significant impact on theiroverall performance. Students also face anxiety at the night beforethe exams because their grades determine their promotion to the nextclass. Consequently, if teachers do not prepare learners on suitablestrategies for approaching different tests, they are prone toexperience anxious reactions that have long-term effect on theirstudies (Cizek&amp Burg, 2006).&nbsp

Lackof Preparedness

Anotherissue that influences test anxiety is inadequate preparation for thetest. In most cases, students are aware of the contents, topics, andfocus of the examination owing to their knowledge of the subjectcurriculum. While this serves as an advantage, some students mayrealize that they are not competent in some areas, particularly, inMathematics, History, Chemistry, and English topics. When they take alast minute look at their class notes, assignments, and course books,they realize that they are not well prepared for the test hence,they panic.

Historyof Failure

Some students are scared of failing exams owing to earlierexperiences. As a result, they develop a negative attitude towardsexaminations. This issue affects students in that they develop lowself-esteem and a negative perception to examinations. This habitplaces students in a compromising situation, whereby, they do notknow how to approach reading, test taking, and passing exams (Cizek&amp Burg, 2006).&nbsp

Solutionsto Test Anxiety

Themain solution to the problem is reading in advance for topics thatstudents find challenging. Secondly, learners who have a history offailure should join peer groups with positive attitude towards exams.The colleagues will assist them in improving their self-esteem andconfidence towards tackling tests. Lastly, students should seekcounseling assistance from teachers and students in higher levels whohave experienced and overcome the same issue. This will help themidentify the underlying cause of test anxiety and the mostappropriate solution for solving the matter (Freeman et al., 2008).


Cizek, G. J.,&amp Burg, S. S. (2006).&nbspAddressingtest anxiety in a high stakes environment: Strategies for classroomsand schools.Thousand Oaks, NJ: Corwin Press, A Sage Publications Company.

Freeman, D., Gittins, M., Pugh, K., Antley, A., Slater, M., &ampDunn, G. (2008). What makes one person paranoid and another personanxious? The differential prediction of social anxiety andpersecutory ideation in an experimental situation. Psychologicalmedicine, 38(08), 1121-1132.