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Sch Psychol Q. 2018 Sep;33(3):482-491. doi: 10.1037/spq0000236. Epub 2018 May 24.

Does increased effort compensate for performance debilitating test anxiety?

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School of Education, Liverpool John Moores University.
Department of Education and Social Justice, University of Birmingham.


It is well established that test anxiety is negatively related to examination performance. Based on attentional control theory, the aim of this study was to examine whether increased effort can protect against performance debilitating test anxiety. Four hundred and sixty-six participants (male = 228; 48.9%; White = 346, 74.3%; mean age = 15.7 years) completed self-report measures of test anxiety and effort that were matched to performance on a high-stakes secondary school examination. The worry and bodily symptoms components of test anxiety were negatively, and effort, positively related to examination performance. Effort moderated the negative relation between bodily symptoms and examination performance. At low effort, the negative relationship was amplified and at high effort was attenuated. Compensatory effort protects performance against bodily symptoms but not worry. It is possible that the cognitive load on working memory arising from the combination of worry and examination demands may be too high to be compensated by effort. (PsycINFO Database Record.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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