Personal and situational predictors of test anxiety of students in post-compulsory education

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Abstract

Background.

Recent models of evaluation anxiety emphasize the importance of personal knowledge and self-regulatory processes in the development of test anxiety, but do not theorize a route for situational influences.

Aim.

To investigate the relationship between test anxiety and personal knowledge beliefs (achievement goals and perceived academic competence), parental pressure/support, and teachers' achievement goals.

Sample.

One-hundred and seventy five students at a sixth-form college following pre-degree courses in Psychology and Sociology.

Method.

Self-report data were collected for test anxiety, personal achievement goals, academic self-concept, perceived test competence, teachers' achievement goals, and parental pressure/support. Relationships were examined through correlational and regression analyses.

Results.

The relationship between test anxiety and personal knowledge beliefs differed for the various components of test anxiety. A mastery-avoidance goal was related to worry and tension, and a performance-approach goal to bodily symptoms. Perceived academic competence was related to worry and tension. Parental pressure was associated with stronger worry and test-irrelevant thinking components directly, and with a stronger bodily symptoms component indirectly through a performance-approach goal. Teachers' performance-avoidance goals were related to worry, tension, and bodily symptoms indirectly through personal performance-avoidance goals, and in the case of bodily symptoms additionally through a performance-approach goal.

Conclusion.

Findings provide partial support for the self-regulatory model of test anxiety suggesting that additional routes are required to account for the role of parental pressure and teachers' performance-avoidance goals and a re-examination of the relationship between test anxiety and achievement goals.

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