Test anxiety is conceived as the hyper-arousal condition that results in physiological, emotional and intellectual changes that prevent the effective use of the previously learned information while taking an examination. It is composed of “worry” which a cognitive anxiety related with performance and “emotionality” the arousal of autonomic nervous system in evaluative situations (Morris & Liebert 1970 in Ndirangu 2009). Examination performance is the grade point or scores obtained following examination. It is synonymous with academic performance. The purpose of the study was to determine the relationship between test anxiety and examination performance of Basic Nursing Students in Enugu Urban. The correlation study design was used. The study was carried out among 140 PTS students of school of UNTH and School of Nursing ESUTH comprising 63 students from UNTH and 77 from ESUTH. Sarason’s test anxiety instrument was used to collect data on students test anxiety and published PTS results used for data on examination performance. The result showed that there is an inverse relationship between test anxiety and examination performance of the students r = -.20, N = 140 P = 02. It was also established that students with mild test anxiety had better examination performance than those with moderate test anxiety. The results also showed no significant difference in the test anxiety levels between Schools. The major educational implication is that high anxiety will lead to poor examination performance while mild and moderate anxiety levels will give good examination performance. It is recommended that a curriculum that is inclusive of strategies of coping with test anxiety be developed.
Background to the Study
Test and testing are part of all educational programmes. In basic nursing school classroom content is complex, the scope is broad and the pace is accelerated. Frequent testing of students is necessary throughout the programme for evaluation of progress in mastering content. Also at the end of planned instruction, preliminary training stage (PTS), junior block, intermediate block, students are given examinations. Their performance in such examinations is used to make decisions that impact on the students. Examination performance thus is an important issue for the students. Students finishing their PTS verbalize and exhibit a great deal of anxiety regarding PTS examinations.
Anxiety is one of those emotional components of human life; it is a basic human emotion consisting of fear and uncertainty that typically appears when an individual perceives an event as being a threat to the ego or self-esteem (Sarason, 1988 in Eric Digests 2005). When students develop serious fear of performing poorly in an examination it is termed test anxiety. According to Zeidner (1998), test anxiety is a multidimensional sign that can be described as a group of phenomenological, physiological, and behavioral reactions that occur with possible negative consequences or failure in an examination or similar evaluative situation. Test anxiety especially worry has impact on academic performance and working memory (Eysenk, 2001). There are two major tasks for students who find themselves under test condition. One is to be able to cope positively with that feeling of unpleasantness and uncertainty brought about by test and similar situations. The other is to live up to expectation of the test by performing well. Most students might study hard to pass tests but might not be able to overcome or resolve the conditions they find themselves in during examinations such as test anxiety.
Examination performance is the grade point average or score obtained following an examination. This is often expressed in percentage e.g. (50%) or in letters e.g. A, B etc. There are many factors that affect examination performance; one of these is test anxiety. Researchers estimate that 20 to 30 percent of American students experience test anxiety (Strauss, 2012).
Some research works carried out in Nigeria have shown that our students in primary, secondary and higher institution experience test anxiety (Ebigbo, 1982 in Akubuiroh, 1990). Although Kalu (1980) and Akubuiroh (1990) did some work on the relationship between test anxiety and examination performance, it has been long. No recent major work has been done to show whether the level of test anxiety (high, moderate or low) relate significantly to examination performance (high, moderate or low score levels). The focus of this study therefore is to determine the relationship between test anxiety and examination performance.