Deconstructing test anxiety

D. Putwain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

82 Citations (Scopus)


Recent changes to educational policy which have focused attention on the use of high stakes testing as performance and accountability measures have renewed interest in test anxiety both in the UK and the USA. The aim of this paper is to provide a critical examination of the test anxiety construct, and explore the ways in which test anxiety is written about and conceptualised in the existing literature. It is intended that this paper would provide a companion to the comprehensive reviews that already exist, to provoke scholarly thought and debate around the existing literature, than to provide an additional review. Discussion is based around five themes: (1) how test anxiety is differentiated from the anxiety construct in general; (2) the differing conceptions of test anxiety in the literature; (3) the relationship between test anxiety and other, related constructs; (4) how measurement concerns have driven development of the test anxiety construct; and (5) the focus on worry and performance deficits leading to definitional problems. Two directions for future work are highlighted: first, to continue the exploration of test anxiety with other related constructs; and second, to develop qualitative approaches to the study of test anxiety.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-155
JournalEmotional and Behavioural Difficulties
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2008


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