We look here at the benefits and shortcomings of several test anxiety scales:

Spielberger Test Anxiety Inventory

  • Is the most widely used, and therefore the international standard.
  • Scores items both positive and negative, so that left and right response bias does
  • not affect the scoring
  • Scale picks up worry, which impairs performance, but also emotionality, better termed physiological arousal, which is only modestly related to impaired performance.
  • Is licensed to users, and involves a licensing fee.

See further Information or Purchase the scale

Westside Test Anxiety Scale (Richard Driscoll)

  • Focuses strongly on performance impairments, with 6 of 10 items specifically about performance problems.
  • Assesses worry, which impairs performance, but does not dwell on physiological arousal, which is only loosely related to performance.
  • Is quick to administer and easily scored by the students themselves
  • Includes instructions to help students understand their scores.
  • Is public access, from AMTAA.ORG, and can be downloaded and used with no charge to your school.
  • Scale changes are found to be closely related to grade changes, suggesting that the scale is a sensitive register of anxiety impairments.  See Validation
  • Items are all scored positive, making it the scale easy to score but also vulnerable to left and right response bias.
  • While the scale is relatively new, it does identify about 18% of students as highly anxious, which is the national norm, and it is being used in several ongoing research projects.

View the Westside Scale

Alpert-Haber 10 item Debilitative Anxiety Scale. 

  • One of the first to measures anxiety performance impairments.See:  Alpert, R. & Haber, R.N. (1960). Anxiety in academic achievement situations. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 10, 207-215.

Cassady-Johnson Cognitive Test Anxiety Scale

  • Focuses on the cognitive dimension of test anxiety, which impairs test performance.

See:  Cassady, J. & Johnson, R.  (2001).  Cognitive test anxiety and academic performance.  Contemporary Educational Psychology, 27, 270-295.

Irwin. G. Sarason Reactions to Tests (RTT) Scale

Measures:  Tension; Worry; Test-Irrelevant Thinking; and Bodily Reactions.

  • Is one of the early scales and has been used extensively in research.
  • Is available without charge.
  • Contains 40 items, providing a thorough assessment but requiring more time to complete.

    See Reactions to Tests.   Sarason, I. G. (1984). Stress, anxiety, and cognitive interference:  Reactions to tests. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 46, 929-938.


We are especially interested in scales which can be used without charge to the schools.