The effect of test anxiety on IQ test performance, achievement, and self-concept in elementary schoolchildren

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

IQ test performance of elementary schoolchildren was investigated as a function of two levels of test anxiety and two types of IQ measure. IQ measures used, the New South African Group Test (NSAGT) and the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children - Revised (WISC-R) were assumed to vary in anxiety-provoking cues on cognitive-attentional theoretical grounds. The hypothesis tested was that high test anxiety would lower performance on the NSAGT, but not the WISC-R. The performance of children varying in test anxiety but equivalent in intelligence was then compared at different IQ levels with the hypothesis that high-test anxious children would perform less well at each level. Academic achievement and self-concept of these children were also investigated, with the hypotheses that high-test-anxious children would be lower in both than low-test-anxious children of equivalent intelligence. The Test Anxiety Scale for Children, the Defensiveness Scale for Children and the Piers-Harris Children's Self-Concept Scale were administered to all Standard 4 pupils at two white, English-language, co-educational schools in middle-class suburbs. Highly defensive children were eliminated; the top and bottom 20% of the test anxiety distribution formed the experimental groups, high-test-anxious (HA; n=28) and low-test-anxious (LA; n=27) who were tested blind, in random order, on the WISC-R NSAGT and achievement data were obtained from school records and subjects assigned to High, Medium and Low IQ levels based on NSAGT scores. Analysis of variance indicated that HA children obtained significantly lower IQ scores independent of type of IQ measure.

Bibliography: pages 141-168.