Test anxiety in UK schoolchildren: Prevalence and demographic patterns

D. Putwain

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

112 Citations (Scopus)


Background. Despite a large body of international literature concerning the antecedents, correlates of and treatments for test anxiety, there has been little research until recently using samples of students drawn from the UK. There is a need to establish some basic normative data for test anxiety scores in this population of students, in order to establish whether international research findings may generalize to UK schoolchildren. Aim. To collect some exploratory data regarding test anxiety scores in a sample of UK schoolchildren, along with socio-demographic variables identified in the existing literature as theoretically significant sources of individual and group differences in test anxiety scores. Sample. Key Stage 4 students (1348): 690 students in the Year 10 cohort and 658 students in the Year 11 cohort, drawn from seven secondary schools in the North of the UK. Method. Data on test anxiety were collected using a self-report questionnaire, the Test Anxiety Inventory (Spielberger, 1980) and additional demographic variables through the Student Profile Questionnaire. The factor structure of the Test Anxiety Inventory was explored using principal components analysis and multiple regression analysis used to predict variance in self-reported test anxiety scores from individual and group variables. Results. The principal components analysis extracted two factors, worry and emotionality, in line with theoretical predictions. Gender, ethnic and socio-economic background were identified as significant predictors of variance in test anxiety scores in this dataset. Whether English was an additional, or native, language of students did not predict variance in test anxiety scores and year group was identified as a predictor of emotionality scores only. Conclusion. Variance in the test anxiety scores of Key Stage 4 students can be predicted from a number of socio-demographic variables. Further research is now required to assess the implications for assessment performance, examination arrangements and appropriateness of using a North American measure of test anxiety in a UK context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)579-594
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2007


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