Test anxiety and aptitude test performance in an actual college admissions testing situation: Temporal considerations

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This study systematically tests for time of testing (pre- vs post-test) as a possible moderator variable in the relationship between test anxiety and performance in a natural college admissions testing situation. On the basis of previous theorizing and research in the stress and psychological measurement literature it was hypothesized that anxiety will be more strongly related to test performance at time 2 (post-test) than at time 1 (pre-test). The present sample was composed of 378 Israeli student candidates who sat for scholastic aptitude university entrance exams centrally constructed and administered by the National Institute of Testing and Evaluation. On a random basis, 176 students were administered the test anxiety inventory in the anticipatory phase immediately prior to being tested, whereas 202 students were given the inventory immediately following aptitude testing. Whereas under pre-test anxiety measurement conditions only a negligible relationship was observed between performance and test anxiety, under post-test measurement conditions the latter two variables were observed to be moderately correlated. Overall, the data are more consistent with the assumptions of the cognitive deficit than the cognitive interference model and provide evidence for the moderating role of phase of testing and assessment of test anxiety in determining the magnitude of the anxiety-performance relationship. The results suggest that temporal factors be taken into consideration in assessing the nature and magnitude of the relationship between test anxiety and performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-109
Number of pages9
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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