The purpose of the study in question was to investigate the relationship between academic performance and test anxiety. Empirical literature and previous research indicated that a higher level of test anxiety might be a predictor of lower grades among the students who suffer from it. The hypothesis of the study based on previous findings was that there would be an inverse correlation between the level of test anxiety and academic performance. The main goal of the study was to investigate this relationship in large samples of students.
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The study was designed to determine causality between the level of test anxiety and average grades of a student. The researchers studied a sample of students consisting of about 5500 students majority of whom were undergraduates (Chapell et al., 2005). The researchers collected data by asking the participants to complete questionnaires. The students were provided with one-page forms consisting of questions about their status (graduate or undergraduate), sex, age, major, grade point average (GPA), year in school, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status (SES). In addition to that, the students were administered the Test Anxiety Inventory (TAI).
The TAI is a special self-report instrument that was designed to measure test anxiety among students. It includes 20 items in which participants are requested to report the regularity of anxiety symptoms they experienced before, during, and after tests. The TAI puts respondents on the scale of test anxiety ranging from 20 to 80 where a higher score indicates a higher level of anxiety.
Using the means and standard deviation provided by the TAI, the researchers divided the participants of the study into three groups, namely low, meditate, and high test anxiety. Students with TAI scores within one standard deviation from the mean formed the mediate group, and those with scores lower and higher than that formed the low and the high test anxiety groups, respectively. The study has shown that there was no statistically significant relationship between the level of test anxiety and the GPA among graduated male students.
Female graduate students with a low level of test anxiety showed higher results compared to their high-test-anxious counterparts. The difference appeared to be even more substantial among undergraduate female students. It also suggested that female students tend to have much higher test anxiety levels than males. The difference in average test anxiety between sexes was estimated at one-third of a standard deviation. The cumulative GPA in female groups was also higher than in groups of male students (Chapell et al., 2005). Thus, the results of the study prove that correlation between the studied variables is statistically significant, especially in female groups.
The study proved the initial hypothesis showing a statistically significant but small inverse relationship between students’ performance and test anxiety. The results of the research help to clarify the situation and improve the understanding of the issue by the academic community, and the large scale of the study ensures that the results are reliable. Although, the fact that researchers fully relied on self-reported information about the students, which might be inaccurate, is a limitation of the study.
A relatively small effect on the GPA suggests that test anxiety is not a major factor determining the academic success of an individual, especially among male students, and it should not be overstated. Nonetheless, this phenomenon has been proven to have some impact on academic performance, and the findings of the research are important for future studies in the field.
Chapell, M. S., Blanding, Z. B., Silverstein, M. E., Takahashi, M., Newman, B., Gubi, A., & McCann, N. (2005). Test anxiety and academic performance in undergraduate and graduate students. Journal of Educational Psychology, 97(2), 268-274.