Test anxiety – how can we tackle it? by Fiona Horne

Posted by on Feb 22, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments


I have to confess to being more than a little bit concerned over Michael Gove’s proposed changes to our GCSE system. Having one child at University and another just embarking on his GCSE journey, I guess I have every right to be.  Whilst I understand that coursework based assessment has been open to potential abuse, the return to all exam based assessment at this level makes me uncomfortable.


As teachers and trainers we have all seen the terror that some learners feel when the word “exam” is mentioned. I have tried changing the word – test, assessment, questions, but all prompt the same response; no matter what the level of competence and understanding of the learner, they are struck down by an exam phobia that could cripple their chances of achieving their qualification.


As one of the “O” level generation, I failed dismally because I just didn’t have the capability, or revision training to be able to retain the information, then retrieve it during the three hour exam. Hence many years of adult training ensued, luckily with some great teachers who enabled me to achieve the qualifications that I have today.


As trainers we have a toolbox of options and methods available to help these learners and can build in the time to provide appropriate support to them but will our secondary school teachers have the same luxury with class sizes of up to the mid thirties? .


Sometimes, no matter how much help and support you offer in adult learning, candidates are reluctant to accept it, probably as a result of their earlier school experiences, and fail despite your best efforts.