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Original Article

MANAGING TEST ANXIETY AMONG ADOLESCENTS

Preeti Manani

Senior Research Fellow, Faculty of Education, Dayalbagh Educational Institute, Deemed University, Dayalbagh, Agra (U.P.)

 

Abstract

Background: Test anxiety is experienced by each one of us in our life. Sometimes it gives us direction to perform better but sometimes deteriorate our performance. It is an emotional reaction towards evaluative tasks that are perceived as threatening. It is anxiety, expressed towards examination because the victim as aversive perceives them. Examination is a source of inordinate stress, which can lead to medical troubles and can reduce the efficiency of performance

Aim:The present research focuses on the study of effectiveness of intervention program in overcoming test anxiety.

Methodology: Initially data was collected on 300 secondary school students and among them, students who scored high on Test Anxiety Scale were selected. 100 subjects were randomly selected from 140 students who scored high on Test Anxiety Scale. Thus, the final sample consisted of 100 secondary school students. Pre and post test scores of Test Anxiety was collected with the help of Test Anxiety Scale developed by Sharma (1978).t’test was applied to study the difference between pre test scores and post test scores of teachers freezing.

Result:Results showed that mean score is 106.8 and 69.48 for pre intervention and post intervention respectively. t value is 4.50 that is significant at .01 level.

Conclusion: It can be concluded that intervention program is effective in decreasing Test Anxiety. 

Key Words: Anxiety,Adolescents

Introduction

Anxiety is a common phenomenon of everyday life. It plays a crucial role in human life because all of us are the victims of anxiety in different ways. We all are living in the age of Anxiety in this country. The term anxiety generally means ‘a state of emotional and physical disturbance induced in a person by a real or imaginary threat.’ It is a failure to meet a standard, or fear that one does not hold the appropriate standard. Psychologists believe that some anxiety is essential because it helps us to be alert and gives us motivation to deal with our problems. But it has also been observed that high levels of anxiety may block recall ability and expression of individual’s potentials.  Anxiety is a chronic complex emotional state with apprehension or dread as its most prominent component, characteristic of various mental and nervous disorders.

Test anxiety is an emotional reaction towards evaluative tasks that are perceived as threatening. It is anxiety, expressed towards examination because the victim as aversive perceives them. Examination is a source of inordinate stress, which can lead to medical troubles and can reduce the efficiency of performance. Test Anxiety (TA) refers to the distress one experience when being evaluated or when thinking about prospective evaluations, which typically lead to reduced performances. Test Anxiety affects all of us and it is perfectly natural to experience it. In today’s world it has become part of studies1 Like other situations in which a person might feel performance anxiety, test anxiety can bring on "butterflies," a stomachache, or a tension headache. Some people might feel shaky, sweaty, or feel their heart beating quickly as they wait for the test to be given out. A student with really strong test anxiety may even feel like he or she might pass out or throw up. The behavioral signs are irritability, passivity 2, loss of concentration depression, change in appetite, palpitation and various other symptoms. 3

Causes of Test Anxiety4

 Chery explain two causes of test anxiety. She also stated that for many students, it can be a combination of things. Bad study habits, poor past test performance and an underlying anxiety problem can all contribute to test anxiety.

Biological Causes of Test Anxiety

In stressful situations, such as before and during an exam, the body releases a hormone called adrenaline. This helps prepare the body to deal with what is about to happen and is commonly referred to as the "fight-or-flight" response. Essentially, this response prepares you to either stay and deal with the stress or escape the situation entirely. In a lot of cases, this adrenaline rush is actually a good thing. It helps prepare you to deal effectively with stressful situations, ensuring that you are alert and ready. For some people, however, the symptoms of anxiety they feel can become so excessive that it makes it difficult or even impossible to focus on the test. Symptoms such as nausea, sweating and shaking hands can actually make people feel even more nervous, especially if they become preoccupied with test anxiety symptoms.

Mental Causes of Test Anxiety

In addition to the underlying biological causes on anxiety, there are many mental factors that can play a role in test anxiety. Student expectations are one major mental factor. For example, if a student believes that she will perform poorly on an exam, she is far more likely to become anxious before and during a test. Test anxiety can also become a vicious cycle. After experiencing anxiety during one exam, students may become so fearful about it happening again that they actually become even more anxious during the next exam. After repeatedly enduring test anxiety, students may begin to feel helpless to change their situation.

Objectives

 Effectiveness of intervention programs in overcoming Test Anxiety.

Hypothesis

Intervention programs are effective in overcoming test anxiety.

Sample

Initially sample consisted of 300 secondary school students and among them, students who scored high on Test Anxiety Scale were selected. 100 subjects were randomly selected from 140 students who scored high on Test AnxietyScale. Thus, the final sample consisted of 100 secondary school students. Subjects were matched in terms of age, sex and education qualification. Subjects having any psychological and physiological disorder were excluded from the sample.

Tool

Test Anxiety Scale by Sharma 5 was used to measure test anxiety. The present test has 25 items, which describe the experience of anxiety. The reliability by test retest method after an interval of 10 days was found .927 and the internal consistency reliability was ascertained by adopting Split Half method using Spearman Brown Formula and found .87. For finding the predictive validity two external criteria were employed and these are (i) Teacher’s Rating r = .768 (ii) Internal Marks r= .743.

Procedure

Investigator met each subject personally. Rapport was established with the subjects. All the respondents were asked to fill up the Sharma’s Test Anxiety Scale. They were assured that their responses would be kept confidential. The scoring was done with the help of manual. The intervention program focused on the five aspects. These aspects are borrowed from the steps to reducing exam anxiety by Dickson, K. (2012). These are as follows:

1-Give yourself practice tests and use them not only to work on your test-taking but also to practice controlling your anxiety level. Deliberately induce anxiety by saying negative things to yourself and then practice the Anxiety Control Procedure. If you're afraid of not being able to finish the exam in time, do timed sets of practice questions.

2-Effective studying means Don't cram the night before the exam: (too much material) + (too little time) = Anxiety. One must plan studying with regularly scheduled study sessions about 50 minutes long separated by 5-10 minute breaks.

3-Get to the test site a little early, but try to avoid talking with other students right before the exam. (Their anxieties may increase your own.) Instead, take a walk around the building and silently talk to yourself or pray. Moving your body can help rid you of some of the nervous energy you are experiencing.

4-Breathe in slowly: to the count of seven and exhale to the count of seven. Continue this slow breathing until you actually feel your body begin to relax. This whole procedure should take only about a minute and it's well worth the time. Stay relaxed, if you begin to get nervous take a few deep breaths slowly to relax yourself and then get back to work.

5-Simple Tricks: Do the simple questions first to help build up your confidence for the harder questions. Write down important formulas, facts, definitions and/or keywords in the margin first so you won't worry about forgetting them

Results and Discussion

To find the significance of difference between pre intervention test anxiety scores and post test anxiety scores ‘t test was applied. It is shown in Result Table 1 that t value for test anxiety score is 4.50 that is significant at .01 level. It shows that there is significant difference between the pre and post intervention test anxiety scores. The mean score for pre intervention test anxiety is 106.8 that has been reduced to 69.48 in post intervention scores. It shows that as the result of intervention program the test anxiety has been decreased.

Result Table 1: Showing Pre and Post Intervention Test Anxiety Scores

Groups

N

Mean

S.D.

’t’ Value

Pre Intervention

100

106.8

18.87

4.50 **

Post Intervention

100

69.48

22.68

**=Significant at .01 level.

The mean score in pre intervention session depicts that students were suffering from high test anxiety but the intervention program was continued to be given to all the subjects carefully. Later again the test anxiety of the students was measured and this time the researcher found a decrease in test anxiety of the students. The hypothesis that Intervention program is effective in overcoming test anxiety is accepted. Anxiety becomes a problem when it begins to interfere with a student's ability to think logically or remember facts. Physical symptoms of real test anxiety include tense muscles, sweaty palms, a pounding heart, and feeling faint or nauseous. Cognitive symptoms include the inability to remember simple things, illogical thinking, and mental blocks.In dealing with test anxiety one needs to deal with both the physical symptoms and the cognitive or mental aspects of test anxiety. Psychologists recommend certain techniques that have proven to be extremely successful if practiced and used correctly. The key is that these techniques must be practiced ahead of time to really work. There is no magic cure for test anxiety; overcoming it requires practice and persistence.6 found that study anxiety intervention can be seen as an effective program to improve academic performance among university students. Therefore, the participants should practice these techniques effectively to be able in study anxiety coping to enhance their academic performance.7 found that Music therapy decreased State anxiety levels, Trait anxiety levels and systolic blood pressure in oncology patients who received the intervention prior to radiotherapy. suggested some activities to overcome test anxiety such as learn how to study efficiently, establish a consistent pre-test routine, learn relaxation techniques, don't forget to eat and drink, get some exercise, get plenty of sleep, talk to your teacher, don't ignore a learning disability, see a professional counselor.

Conclusion

The current study supports the fact that intervention program is effective in decreasing Test Anxiety. This promising study has provided a starting point for the continued research and development of intervention program to overcome test anxiety.

References

1.        Deb, S., Chatterjee, P., & Walsh, K. (2010). Anxiety among high school students in India: Comparisons across gender, school type, social strata and perceptions of quality time with parents. Australian Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology, 10, 18-31.
2.        Yildirim, I., Genctanirim, D., Yalcin, I., & Baydan, Y. (2008). Academic achievement, perfectionism and social support as predictors of test anxiety. H. U. Egitim Fakultesi Dergisi, 34, 287-296.
3.        Akinsola, E. F. &Nwajei, A. D. (2013). Test anxiety, depression and academic performance: assessment and management using relaxation and cognitive restructuring techniques. Social Sciences and Humanities, 4 (6A), 18-24.
4.        Cherry, K. (n.d.). What Causes Test Anxiety? Retrieved from http://psychology.about.com/od/mentalhealth/a/test-anxiety-causes.htm
5.        Sharma, V. P. (1971). Test Anxiety Scale. India. National Psychological Corporation
6.        Vitasari, P., Wahab, M. N. A., Othman, A.&Awang, M. G. (2010). The Use of Study Anxiety Intervention in Reducing Anxiety to Improve Academic Performance among University Students.International Journal of Psychological Studies, 2 (1), 89-95.
7.        Chen,L.C, Wang T.F Shih,Y.N.&WuLJ(2013). Fifteen-minute music intervention reduces pre-radiotherapy anxiety in oncology patients.European Journal of Oncology Nursing, 17(4), 436-41.