Pre-test jitters might boost scores, study says

Pre-test jitters might boost scores: study
A little anxiety seemed to help kids with good working memory, research found.

(HealthDay)—For students with a good memory, feeling anxious before taking an exam might actually lead to a higher test score, researchers have found.

In the new study, researchers in England used computer tests to assess and in 96 students, aged 12 to 14. Good working memory is generally associated with better school performance.

The students were then tested on their general thinking and .

The researchers found that in students with a good working memory, anxiety was associated with higher test scores. In students with a poor working memory, anxiety led to lower test results, according to the report published Oct. 12 in the .

"The research is exciting because it enhances our knowledge of when, specifically, anxiety can have a negative impact on taking tests. The findings also suggest that there are times when a little bit of anxiety can actually motivate you to succeed," study author Matthew Owens, a researcher at the University of Cambridge, said in a news release from the British Psychological Society. Owens was at the University of Southampton when the study took place.

The findings could improve understanding of the impact that anxiety has on students, the researchers said. They estimated that between 10 percent and 40 percent of children have anxiety when taking tests, and suggested that those who are more likely to do poorly on tests could be given priority for receiving extra help in school.

While the study found an association between and test scores, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

More information: The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has more about test anxiety.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Report advocates improved police training

Aug 29, 2014

A new report released yesterday by the Mental Health Commission of Canada identifies ways to improve the mental health training and education that police personnel receive.

Meaningful relationships can help you thrive

Aug 29, 2014

Deep and meaningful relationships play a vital role in overall well-being. Past research has shown that individuals with supportive and rewarding relationships have better mental health, higher levels of subjective well-being ...

Learning to read involves tricking the brain

Aug 29, 2014

While reading, children and adults alike must avoid confusing mirror-image letters (like b/d or p/q). Why is it difficult to differentiate these letters? When learning to read, our brain must be able to inhibit ...

User comments