Test Anxiety Levels in Undergraduate Nursing Students

Sunday, 30 July 2017: 2:30 PM

Jamie Beth Rivera, MSN
Department of Nursing, Westfield State University, Westfield, MA, USA

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE: For many undergraduate nursing students, performing well in required coursework is important. However, nursing students often face pressure-filled academic situation and worrying about them may inhibit their ability to demonstrate actual knowledge of course material. This can, in turn, interfere with students completing their undergraduate programs or with choosing to pursue advanced nursing degrees following graduation. The purpose of this study was to assess and compare test anxiety levels of sophomore and senior undergraduate nursing students.

METHODS: A convenience sample was utilized for this descriptive survey. A total of 219 nursing students completed a scale that consisted of 26 statements focusing on the cognitive domain of test anxiety. Scores could range from 26 to 104 with higher values indicating greater anxiety. Three cut-points were applied to define low (26-59), moderate (60-69), and high (70-104) anxiety groups.

RESULTS: Internal validity of the instrument was supported by a Cronbach’s alpha of 0.94. The total mean score was M = 67.5 (SD = ± 15.03) and corresponded to a moderate level of anxiety. Mean score comparisons were conducted and showed a sophomore (N = 111) mean anxiety level of 71.2 (SD = ± 14.39) and senior (N = 108) anxiety level of 63.6 ( SD = ± 14.77). The sophomore and senior anxiety levels were significantly different (p <. 001). Mean score comparisons between male (M = 66.04 SD ± 14.24 N=23) and female (M = 67.64 SD ±15.16 N= 193) students revealed no significant difference (p = 0.61). Students who had a GPA below a 3.0 had significantly higher anxiety levels (M = 83.3) than students who reported a GPA above a 3.0 (M = 66.4, p < .001).

CONCLUSION: Overall, nursing students have moderate-to-high test anxiety levels. Sophomore nursing students have higher mean levels than senior students and students who have a GPA below 3.0 have higher levels than those with GPA above 3.0. There was no difference in anxiety between male and female students. Strategies that improve managing test anxiety, such as early assessment, increased awareness, and providing anxiety-reducing interventions for students, may be appropriate additions to undergraduate nursing curricula.