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.
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.
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.