Is Test Anxiety Real?


Morgan Moomey, Staff Writer

Imagine you are sitting in class. You know you have a test today. You studied last night and you feel prepared. Then, the test is handed out. You feel your heart rate increase and butterflies in your stomach. Is this a reality for you? While some students believe that this feeling is a diagnosable illness, others simply believe that it is  an excuse for not knowing the material on the test. 

To find some answers, a poll was set out to both the students and staff of AHS. In total, 30 staff members and 85 students responded to the poll. Of the 85 students who responded, 75 (88.2%) do believe that test anxiety is real, five (5.9%) do not believe that test anxiety is real, and the other 5.9% believe that it is sometimes real. When asked why they may or may not believe that test anxiety is real, one AHS student responded that they do believe that it is real because “Some people fold under pressure and expectations set for them.” Another student from AHS believes that test anxiety is sometimes real. “I think that sometimes students do actually have test anxiety, but others are using it as an excuse for not knowing what is on the test.” The students were also asked if they personally believe that they have test anxiety. 41 (48.2%) believe they do, 30 (35.3%) believe they do not, and 14 (16.5%) believe that it depends on what subject is being tested. 

Of the 30 AHS staff members that responded, 26 (86.7%) believe that test anxiety is real, two (6.7%) do not, and two (6.7%) believe that it sometimes can be real. One staff member who believes that test anxiety is real said, “Some people feel anxious when they know that something will have a dramatic effect on their grades. It’s like a job interview. That interview will likely determine whether you get the job.” A staff member who believes that it is sometimes real replied, “No doubt that test anxiety can exist. However, I believe that not being prepared can lead to the anxiety.” A staff member who doesn’t believe that test anxiety is real says, “If you know and understand the material then there should not be any reason or excuse as to why you would not do well on the exam.” Finally, the staff was asked if they believe that students use test anxiety as an excuse for not knowing the material. 23 (76.7%) of the 30 polled believe that students do use it as an excuse, and seven (23.3%) believe they do not. One staff member put it this way, “It’s human nature to not want to disappoint people, no matter if that person is a parent, friend or teacher. Therefore, when people don’t do well on a test or a certain subject, they blame it on test anxiety giving them a reason other than just not knowing the material.”

It has become clear that the majority of AHS staff and students believe that test anxiety is a very real experience; but, the reason as to why is still up for debate.