Predictors, Sources of Test Anxiety and Coping Strategies: A Comparative Study of Postgraduate Taught Students in the UK and Saudi Arabia


Test anxiety (TA) is pervasive across cultural boundaries and is related to impaired academic performance and psychological wellbeing. This study aimed to investigate predictors, sources of TA and the coping strategies employed by postgraduate taught (PGT) students in UK universities (UKUK), international students in UK universities (IUK), and Saudi students in Saudi universities (SASA). The study employed a comparative, cross-sectional and correlational research design. In total 429 PGT students took part (198=UKUK, 153=SASA, 78=IUK) recruited through convenience sampling. Students completed an online questionnaire using the TA Inventory (Spielberger,1980), the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS21; Lovibond &Lovibond, 1995), the Sleep Condition Indicator (Espie et al., 2014), and open-ended questions about the sources of TA and the techniques used to reduce it. This study is part of a mixed-methods study. The results indicated that within the three groups, anxiety predicted TA. Among the SASA and IUK students, sleep quality predicted TA, as did ethnicity within UKUK students. The results of Chi-squared tests revealed that written examinations were most likely to increase TA, followed by coursework. The most important source of TA comprised academic factors related to the tests and courses within the three groups. The coping strategies most reported were relaxation techniques for UKUK students, personal organization for SASA students, and distraction for IUK students. Forms of assessment influence the degree of TA. Designing forms of assessment is a challenge in higher education. Transitioning away from traditional exams to continuous assessment may have the potential to improve academic performance and relieve TA.

Author Information
Wafa Alshammari, University of Glasgow, United Kingdom
Maxine Swingler, University of Glasgow, United Kingdom
Stephany Biello, University of Glasgow, United Kingdom

Paper Information
Conference: ECE2021
Stream: Mind

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon