A qualitative look at test anxiety and english language proficiency tests
Santana, Josefina C.
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Test anxiety is an emotional response to a testing situation. This article reports on the qualitative aspects of a study carried out at a Mexican university. Students are required to complete an English language proficiency test in order to graduate from their studies. A large percentage of students at this university have studied at bilingual (English-Spanish) schools, or have had access to study abroad programs, and are proficient in the spoken language; however, this does not guarantee that they pass the test. The researchers looked into possible factors for some students’ failure to obtain the required score, despite their proficiency. These factors included test anxiety, self-efficacy, self-awareness, and lack of motivation. This article reports on a study into test anxiety which included both quantitative and qualitative aspects. The qualitative portion of the study sought to understand the participants’ experience in taking the exam in regards to test anxiety. Seven students from the school of Pedagogy were interviewed after they had failed to pass a Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC). Thematic analysis was used to find their common experiences, with a goal to offer an intervention or solution. The study found that factors other than test anxiety, such as lack of preparedness, might be at play. Based on the findings, pertinent intervention strategies were suggested. ©Common Ground Research Networks