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Measuring Gender Specific Differences in Test Anxiety Between Contrast Groups of First Year and Third Year Undergraduates

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Test Anxiety is defined by Kondo (1996) as a double situation specific personality trait, consisting of two psychological components; emotional arousal and worry. Several studies have focused on test anxiety, as it is associated with lower test results and a higher amount of stress, so has attracted attention from researchers and teachers (Hembree 1998; Sarason and Sarason 1990) as cited in Kondo (1996). Most of the focus has been to reduce test anxiety by investigating the cognitive, affective and behavioural approaches. Kondo (1996) illustrates that those who take a cognitive approach to reduce test anxiety believe thinking disturbances are the main cause of the test anxiety and thus therapies for this includes cognitive reconstructuring and emotional therapy for the patient. However, the affective approach focuses on trying to reduce the negative association of examinations and anxiety as well as curing this by relaxation training and bio-feedback. Finally the behavioural approach presumes that test anxiety occurs due to poor academic skills and preparation. Therefore by training the subject to revise thoroughly and be prepared, it is believed it will end their test anxiety.

Responses to test anxiety including those mentioned earlier were proposed by Kondo (1994) by the investigation of the strategies reported by test subjects, on how they react to anxiety of performing an oral presentation to an audience. Kondo (1994) produced a typology of strategies which included four basic methods; cognitive, affective, behavioural methods and resignation. Furthermore, it was found that subjects with high test anxiety did not differ with those who have low test anxiety, in what strategies they reported they used. Also, high anxious subjects were more likely to report affective and behavioural strategies than low anxious ones. However, the limitations of Kondo's (1994) study is that the results can not be generalised to test anxiety, as the responses to anxiety may be different for subjects who will be undertaking an examination . Further investigations by Kondo (1996), to investigate the actual responses subjects used for pre-test anxiety, reported that high test anxious subjects significantly used more strategies to reduce anxiety then low test anxious participants. Furthermore, Kondo's (1996) later study illustrated that high test anxious subjects used more Concentration and Preparation responses, then the Thinking, Resignation and Concentration responses.

This study, like Kondo's (1996) uses questionnaires as a scale to rate and measure the response of the subjects. The majority of the questions are based on the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ). Pintrick, Smith, Garcia and Mckeachie (1991) illustrates it as a self-report instrument designed to assess college students' motivational orientations and their use of different learning strategies for a college course. This study will be focused on the anxiety sub-section of the MSLQ which consists of statements that the subject rates from a scale from 1-7. Five of the MSLQ questions (statements) are taken with two new questions being developed. The new questions, based on the MSLQ statements are designed to also measure anxiety and are designed to be realistic statements to how anxiety can affect subjects before an examination.

This study therefore, will be measuring the test anxiety levels of male and female subjects, comparing first year undergraduates test anxiety responses with third year test anxiety undergraduate responses. The hypothesis is two-tailed, with one on the gender of the participant where there will be no significant difference between male and female first and third year undergraduate subjects. The other hypothesis is on anxiety, where it is more likely that the third year undergraduate students (including males and females) will be more anxious then the first year undergraduates, as their results in their exams would affect their overall degree outcome and therefore they will be more anxious about achieving the best result they could.



40 first year and third year undergraduate subjects. They were matched for gender with 10 males and 10 females in the first year undergraduate category and 10 males and 10 females inn the third year undergraduate category. The subjects were of a selected opportunity sample.


40 Test Anxiety Questionnaires, consisting of 7 statements ranked with a scale of 1-7.

Questionnaire sets

7 Test Anxiety Questions ranked with a scale from 1-7. With 1 being; 'Not at all true' and 7 being 'Very true of me'. With 5 of the questions taken from the MSLQ subscale of test anxiety questions. The MSLQ self-ranking questions are based on a general cognitive view of motivation and learning strategies. These originally consisted of a motivation section and a learning strategies section. The motivation section consists of questions assessing student's goals, value beliefs for a course, their beliefs about their skill to succeed in a course and their anxiety about tests in a course. (Pintrick, Smith, Garcia and McKeachie, 1991). The sub-section of the test anxiety questions is where five of the Test Anxiety Questions are taken from.

Example question

1. When I take a test I think how poorly I am doing compared with other students.

Not at all true of me Very true of me

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

(Refer to Appendix A for the complete set of Test Anxiety statements based upon the MSLQ).


A related self report design, from a selected opportunity sample matched for gender. The Independent



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