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A variety of issues affects the academic performance of students, with most being external. Various stress factors affect learners in colleges and universities and prevent them from operating at their full capabilities. However, there are also internal issues, which require different methods to address them. Some students do not study enough while others do, but all are worried about the extent of their knowledge.
Tests serve as the metric for the evaluation of what one has learned, and so, they become a focus of students’ worries. The phenomenon has earned the name ’test anxiety’ and affects many students negatively. It is necessary to develop methods of addressing it to ensure that people can learn and finish their education. For this purpose, this essay will analyze two research papers on the topics and highlight their findings.
Test Anxiety and Self-Efficacy
The work by Jennifer Barrows, Samantha Dunn, and Carrie A. Lloyd proposes self-efficacy as a potential solution to the issue. They confirm that test anxiety affects a student’s test performance negatively. However, Barrows et al. put forward the thesis that test anxiety reduces test performance, but improved self-efficacy can help students resolve it and achieve better results (204). They find in the literature review that the characteristic “influences people’s belief about their capabilities, which has been shown to enhance students’ academic performance” (Barrows et al. 205).
As such, since one factor reduces a student’s self-opinion and the other improves it, the researchers propose the idea that the positive factor may mitigate the negative. They conduct a study on 110 students in a variety of majors and gauge their test anxiety and self-efficacy, then collect their results on a test and analyze the results.
The investigation finds that both factors influence one’s performance, and students with high self-efficacy and low test anxiety perform measurably better than vice versa. However, as Barrows et al. conclude, “test anxiety may be too detrimental to have a moderating variable, even high self-efficacy” (207). Students with high self-efficacy do not necessarily have lower test anxiety values than those with low scores in the characteristic.
Regardless, the promotion of the trait is beneficial for academic performance, and the findings are useful. As Barrows et al. highlight, “studying increases test performance, but […] confidence in doing well, also has a considerable effect on the outcome” (207). Additionally, the authors note that the study provides future scholars with potential research directions in the continuing search for test anxiety moderators.
Test Anxiety and Scheduled Preparation
Hasan Yusefzadeh, Jamileh Amirzadeh Iranagh, and Bahram Nabilou discuss students’ trend of cramming for exams the day or the hour before they begin. Yusefzadeh et al. confirm that “test anxiety is one of the effective factors causing the students to perform poorly” (246). They put forward the thesis that scheduled study preparation reduces students’ test anxiety and improves their academic performance.
They also investigate the characteristic from various angles, observing its relationship with general anxiety and stress. Notably, they find that the levels of general and test anxiety in students are unrelated. For their study, they enroll 20 students in the intervention group and keep 25 as a control, performing scheduled study sessions for the former and evaluating both teams over time. The research takes place throughout the semester, with the overall results being tallied at the end.
The researchers find that the intervention reduces test anxiety on the students who undergo it. They also make a variety of other noteworthy discoveries, such as that general stress levels remain unaffected. One remarkable finding is that “Frequent evaluation of students can lead them to study further, gain better results, and be less concerned about the final exam” (Yusefzadeh et al. 249). Regular confirmations help learners affirm that their studies are progressing adequately and that they will be ready for the test. However, too many tests, or excessively strict ones, can make students worry and increase their worries about the finals.
Overall, the study’s results are useful, as they offer a tangible way to reduce test anxiety without compromising education quality or study time. If students can be convinced to study regularly, their results should improve significantly.
Overall, both studies confirm that test anxiety is a significant concern that lowers students’ academic performance. The findings of the second work suggest that the phenomenon is unique and distinct from various other stress factors. As such, it requires more dedicated research into its origins and the methods of its mitigation, as traditional approaches may not be viable. The results of the first study partially confirm this logic, as high student self-opinion is shown not to affect their test anxiety. It should still be cultivated among learners, as it improves their performance regardless, but self-efficacy is not the solution to the issue.
Research into the matter should continue, using current findings as a foundation on which to base their inquiries. However, as the first study notes, there may be no significant moderating internal influences on the characteristic.
However, there may be practical external moderators based on the idea that continuous learning and evaluation of one’s knowledge can reduce worries about upcoming tests. Students tend to underprepare for exams, and their implicit acknowledgment of the fact contributes to increasing their anxiety. As such, regular study sessions can instill the feeling that one is performing adequately, especially combined with frequent evaluations.
However, excessive checks can make students feel as though the test is challenging and they have to learn too much, increasing their anxiety instead. There is also the matter of convincing students, many of whom have other priorities, to attend regularly scheduled study sessions. Many would prefer to study in their free time when they are not occupied by business, such as part-time work. As such, the solution is potentially viable, but it requires additional work before it can be implemented fully.
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The review of the two essays shows that test anxiety is a prominent but insufficiently researched issue that lowers students’ academic performance. It is not associated with general anxiety or stress and appears to be at least partially rational. As such, one’s self-efficacy does not reduce the severity of the issue, though it increases a student’s test performance and warrants further research due to this quality.
There may be other internal moderating factors, but further research is necessary to find them, and they are likely to be insignificant. However, regularly scheduled studies combined with frequent, but not excessive, examinations can reduce test anxiety, likely because students can validate their readiness. There are still complicating factors that can interfere with the implementation of the method, but it warrants further testing and experimentation.
Barrows, Jennifer, et al. “Anxiety, Self-Efficacy, and College Exam Grades.” Universal Journal of Educational Research, vol. 1, no. 3, 2013, pp. 204-208.
Yusefzadeh, Hasan, et al. ”The Effect of Study Preparation on Test Anxiety and Performance: A Quasi-Experimental Study.” Advances in Medical Education and Practice, vol. 2019, no. 10, pp. 245-251.