Many people experience anxiety to some degree when preparing for job placement or skill assessment tests. With many companies now using tests to predict outcomes in job performance, it’s easy to see why employees or prospective employees would be anxious about tests. A poor score could result in an employee being passed up for a promotion — or not receiving a job offer at all.
For those who experience it, test anxiety is a crippling problem. In fact, studies have shown a correlation between severe test anxiety and poor scores, so minimizing test anxiety is one of the best ways to ensure that your company’s assessments predict success and measure skills accurately. We’ve found that online assessments are highly effective in easing the minds of those prone to test anxiety.
What Causes Test Anxiety?
People experience anxiety over job assessments for a variety of reasons. As mentioned above, the most common reason is the knowledge that the result could influence the test taker’s financial outlook. However, external factors such as poorly written “test guides,” the test taker’s peers and even the company administering the test can cause or heighten test anxiety. Some of the other common causes of test anxiety include:
- Not being aware of a test in advance, or not being given sufficient time to prepare
- Fearing that the test might contain “trick questions” or questions unrelated to job skills
- Purchasing a “study guide” that claims to offer a method to “beat the test” but doesn’t actually outline the knowledge needed to complete the test successfully
- Worrying that others will know the answers to the questions, but you will not
- Waiting until the last possible moment to begin preparing for the test
- Seeking advice from peers who might not discuss the test honestly in order to protect their own interests
What Are the Effects of Test Anxiety?
As with other forms of anxiety, those who suffer from test anxiety may feel its effects in a variety of ways. When one considers the effects of test anxiety, it’s easy to see why it often results in lower test scores. The common effects of test anxiety include:
- Negative thinking and procrastination during the test preparation phase
- Racing thoughts and inability to concentrate when taking the test
- Sudden outbursts of emotion such as uncontrollable anger or laughter
- Elevated heart rate, hyperventilation, nausea or headaches
Easing Test Anxiety With Online Assessments
Treat Test Takers With Respect
Alleviating test anxiety begins with a respectful treatment of all employees or candidates for employment. Notify candidates of the test well in advance. Give them information about the test’s format. Tell them why you’re administering the test and what knowledge they’ll need to demonstrate.
Remember that an assessment may cause additional anxiety if candidates believe the questions are unrelated to their jobs. Personality tests, for example, are particularly stressful because the people who take them feel as though they’re being judged personally. If you require candidates to take an assessment that doesn’t relate to job skills, tell them why.
Create a Practice Test
Nothing eases text anxiety quite like a mock exam. A practice test gives candidates the ability to see the format of an upcoming assessment firsthand without needing to worry about their score. Candidates can also use the results of a practice test for help in identifying which skills require a little extra practice.
Distribute Study Guides
If you’re using a standardized test for your online assessment, consider giving candidates a company-approved study guide and discourage them from looking for guides on their own. A study guide clearly outlining the knowledge that candidates should possess will help to reduce test anxiety. More importantly, it’ll help to prevent people from looking for “study guides” claiming to contain the secrets that will help them “trick the test” without actually knowing the information.
Encourage Early Preparation
People often feel the temptation to wait until the last possible moment to prepare for a test, as if procrastination will somehow make the problem go away. Reassure candidates that online testing only becomes easier when one prepares fully for the big day. Procrastination actually encourages test anxiety. Someone who tries to learn all of the material the night before a test probably won’t get enough sleep, and the resulting physical fatigue will make concentration difficult.
Providing study materials in advance can do a great deal to dispel some of the common myths and misconceptions about standardized tests. However, you can do more to alleviate test anxiety by directly addressing some of the most common test-taking myths to candidates before the online assessment takes place. Some people may believe that test creators include a few questions designed to “throw you off,” for example. Some people believe that the same selection in a multiple choice test is never correct more than three times in a row.
Reassure candidates that the true purpose of the assessment is to test their knowledge or evaluate their candidacy for a job — nothing more. A test wouldn’t produce an accurate result if it included ambiguous or confusing questions. Test writers actually go to great lengths to word questions as clearly as possible — and a correct answer is always correct, regardless of its position on the answer grid.
Create a Distraction-Free Environment
Distractions in a testing facility can heighten anxiety by making it difficult for candidates to stay on task. If you conduct online testing at your business to monitor candidates in person, try to create a testing environment that’s as comfortable and plainly decorated as possible. Space people as far apart as possible to deter conversations during tests. If you allow candidates to complete online tests remotely, remind them of the importance of testing when they’re certain interruptions won’t occur.
Create an Anxiety-Free Online Test
Testofy is the leading platform for online tests and assessments. Our remote proctoring feature gives you the ability to reduce test anxiety by letting candidates complete tests at home. You can even help candidates prepare in advance by creating a practice test that looks just like the real one. Testofy allows you to create a test with any type of answer field, including true/false, multiple choice, essay and more — so every test will perfectly meet the needs of your business.
Testofy features a flexible payment system. Pay a flat monthly rate, or pay for each assessment individually — our system handles candidate pools of any size. Best of all, it’s entirely free to sign up and create a sample test for up to ten candidates. Sign up today. Discover how easy and fun it is to create assessments on the Testofy platform. We can’t wait to work with you!