What Causes Test Anxiety essay

what causes test anxiety 1

Author’s Name


Testanxiety is a common problem that students experience before takingexams. It is an experience that is marked with a feeling of stressthat is manifested by symptoms like sweating, shaking, increasedheart beat, stomach upset as well as headaches. Regardless of thestudent’s level, anxiety is a serious problem that can affect theperformance of a student. There are various causes of test anxietywhich ranges from lack of proper preparation before an exam, previousexperience of failure and most importantly fear of failure. Theeffects of test anxiety are so serious that it affects a hugepercentage of students and affect their achievement significantly. Assuch there are concerns about this phenomenon not only in the UnitedStates but all over the world. Different approaches have been put inplace to deal with the phenomenon of test anxiety. Among the measuresthat students can take include studying ahead of exams, having apositive attitude towards exams, joining peer groups for motivationas well as guidance and counseling. These measures assist in boostingthe students’ self esteem and improve their understanding on whatleads them to anxiety during tests. This paper will focus on thecauses of test anxiety and the solutions towards the problem.

Test anxiety is a feeling of stress or disturbance, which comes inform of sweating, shaking, stomach upsets, increased heartbeat, andheadaches (Freeman, Gittins, Pugh, Antley, Slater, &amp Dunn, 2008). In this case, students experience “butterflies in the stomach”which is a colloquial term for anxious reactions before taking atest. Text anxiety is common among students and happens even amongstthe most experienced ones from high school to college (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 nervous reactions that students experiencebefore taking tests.

Text anxiety can be either physical or mental depending on thereaction of an individual. In most cases, the mental state of thestudent affects their physical composition, which in turn results insubstandard performance or examination failure. Experts state that,there are many causes of test anxiety which differ according to thenature of the test, individual student and class environment. Assuch, parents, teachers, and students need to learn about the causesof anxious reactions towards examinations and their overallimplications on a student’s grades (Freeman et al., 2008).

Causes of Test Anxiety

Fear of Failure

Notably, one of the common causes of text anxiety is the fear offailure. Some students do not react well to taking tests despitetheir level of excellence or understanding of the topic at hand.Research shows that anxious reactions affect the grades of 45% ofstudents who take tests in the United States before the examination.For instance, tests account for almost 60% of a student’s overallgrade. Hence, if students fail their midterm exam or final exam, itmay have a significant impact on their overall performance. Studentsoften face anxiety a night before their exams because their gradesdetermine their acceleration to the next class. Hence, if teachers donot prepare their students on how to approach different tests, theyare prone to experience anxious reactions, which have a long-termeffect on their studies (Cizek&amp Burg, 2006).&nbsp

Lack of Preparedness

Anotherissue that influences test anxiety is the lack of preparedness forthe test. In most cases, students are aware of the contents, topics,and focus of the examination owing to their knowledge of the subjectcurriculum. While this serves as an advantage, some students mayrealize that they are not good particularly in Mathematics, History,Chemistry, and English topics. In turn, when students take a lastminute look at their class readings, assignments, and class books,they realize that they are not well prepared for the test.

History of Failure

Some students develop a pattern of failing exams owing to earlierexperiences. As a result, they get a negative attitude towardsexaminations. This issue affects students in that they get a lowself-esteem and a negative perception of examinations. This habitplaces students in a compromising situation whereby they do not knowhow to approach reading, test taking, and passing exams (Cizek&amp Burg, 2006).&nbsp

Solutions to Test Anxiety

Themain solution involves reading in advance on topics that studentsfind challenging and difficult. Secondly, students who have a historyof failure should join groups of peers who have positive attitudetowards exams. This will improve their self-esteem and have an easiertime approaching reading and studying periods. Lastly, studentsshould get counseling from their teachers and students in higherlevels who have experienced the same issue. This will help themidentify the underlying cause of test anxiety and the appropriatesolution for solving the issue (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: 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.