Test anxiety is often regarded as a unique construct of anxiety. It takes place when individuals find themselves in situations that require evaluation, especially in the formal testing environments found in the education system. Individuals who exhibit test anxiety at high levels often experience a disruption of their mental processes, especially when they have to engage their minds in evaluating tasks that are demanding in nature. According to Wachelka & Katz (1999), formal academic assessment work can be very demanding to the mind. The stressing of the human mind can lead to emotional instability. As a result, test anxiety can also be described as a state of the emotions that can induce negative physiological and cognitive alterations prior, during, or after a period of examination.
Test anxiety is not an uncommon phenomenon for researchers. Many researchers have conducted a number of studies in this field. Test anxiety is a topic that has attracted a significant amount of interest by researchers who have extensively studied it over the years since the start of the 20th century, and it is viewed as a problem for children and adolescents in the educational system (Cizek & Burg, 2005; Putwain, 2008; Whitaker- Sena, Lowe, & Lee, 2007; Wren & Benson, 2004), and also adults (Holzer, Madaus, Bray, & Kehle, 2009; Lufi, Okasha, & Cohen, 2004). Early research work in this field can be traced back to the 1950s as indicated in the meta-analysis done by Hembree in 1988. His meta-analysis involved a total of 562 anxiety research reports.
Generally, the existing literature material clearly indicates that students with high test anxiety perform relatively lower as compared to with those students who exhibit lower test anxiety. This implies that the relationship between test anxiety and the performance of students is an inverse one. This can be attributed with the fact that test anxiety evokes academic stressors within the students. According to Hembree (1988) and Seipp (1991), the performance of students is adversely affected by an increase in test anxiety levels. Therefore, the interpretation and validity of evaluation results is something that necessitates immediate course of action. In any case, high levels of test anxiety inhibit young people from exploiting their full academic potential (Keogh et al. 2004). Therefore, there is an obvious need to identify that under attainment in the academic field is highly related with test anxiety.
Past laboratory research experiments conducted by Waugh, Panage, Mends & Gotlib (2010), identified that impending and actual tasks on speaking publicly are enough to cause significant amount of stress to the cardiovascular system. Students who were forced to deliver speeches as part of the requirements of their university courses were observed to experience high levels of cardiovascular activation. These students underwent high test anxiety that were caused by academic stressors. However, past laboratory research has neither analyzed cardiovascular changes resulting from a number of naturally arising academic stressors nor examined how these responses caused by individual variations in test anxiety. Although a significant amount of research has focused on cardiovascular variations under standardized laboratory environments, current focus is on the natural causes of test anxiety among students.
The term ‘cardiovascular response’ is used in this research paper to refer to the variations in the DBP, SBP, and HR of an individual that arises as a result of a stressor. DBP can be described as a measure of the amount of pressure exerted on the walls of the arteries between simultaneous heartbeats, SBP is the amount of pressure exerted against the walls of the arteries when the heart is contracting, and HR is the per minute rate of the heart beat (Hugdahl, 1995). In spite of the fact that the emotional and academic implications of test anxiety remain clear, very few researchers have examined the possibility that test anxiety may play a moderating role in exacerbating cardiovascular reactions to academic stress. Furthermore, physical responses to stress can significantly lead to exhaustion of the body since they are adaptive in nature. activation of the cardiovascular system in a repetitive manner as it responds to stress, over, time, may lead to high risk of acquiring hypertension and cardiovascular disease (Brady & Matthews, 2006; Miller, Chen & Cole, 2009).
Under psychological research, two critical elements of test anxiety are typically studied. These are worry and emotionality. King et al. (2000), define worry as the apparent fear of the possible consequences of failure. Emotionality, on the other hand, refers to experiences that are negative in nature, for instance, an academic event that is stressful. Of these two elements, worry has been related to worsening performance in academic work, including bad grades. In order to achieve the objectives of this study, college level students will be used as the respondents. The ultimate objective of this research proposal will be to study if the dual concepts of worry and emotionality that occur during the process of test anxiety indeed explain the activation of the cardiovascular system during periods of academic stress.