A new U.S. survey examining Gen Z attitudes on test-taking and mental health shows that students consistently struggle with feelings of anxiety tied to tests and exams, according to a recent press release. In fact, 86% of respondents indicated they have experienced exam anxiety, with 76% saying they have experienced it in the past six months. To address the relatable stress students feel around test-taking, global learning platform Quizlet has coined the term ‘examiety’ to describe the physical and emotional reactions that interfere with a student’s ability to perform well on exams.
Quizlet commissioned a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. Gen Z students to gain further insight on the impact of anxiety, studying, and learning in a post-pandemic world. Key takeaways include:
• Examiety negatively affects other aspects of the school experience: 68% of students admit that the apprehension and anxiousness that comes with test taking negatively affects the social aspect of their school lives. Gen Z students feel that test anxiety leads to poor exam performance (29%), lower self-confidence (28%), and a lower tendency to ask teachers for help (12%).
• Students feel exam stress negatively impacts the future: Nearly half of respondents (42%) consistently worry that test anxiety will negatively impact their academic future.
• Boosting accessibility to mental health resources during exams is vital to academic success: Only 24% of respondents said they seek help from school counselors when they are feeling stress related to tests and studying. What’s more, 43% of Gen Z students never reach out to their community, classmates, or family to talk about school-related stress and mental health.
“Exam anxiety is real, especially having moved from high school to college with virtual learning and having to re-adjust to the experience of taking exams in person,” said Alexandra Berardelli, a sophomore at College of the Holy Cross. “Even when I’ve prepared and studied countless hours, my heart still beats out of my chest when entering the exam room. While I know I’m not alone in feeling this way, it’s not something I talk about with my friends or seek help to manage.”
To provide meaningful resources for students to address examiety, Quizlet and The Jed Foundation, a non-profit that protects emotional health and prevents suicide for teens and young adults, have developed the Examiety Resource Guide. This resource guide was crafted with input from trained clinicians and offers tips, insights and guidance to equip students with information to address and manage their exam-related anxiety.
“Giving a name to a feeling of anxiety can often help to take the power from it and enable healthy ways to address it,” said Dr. Laura Erickson-Scroth, Chief Medical Officer, The Jed Foundation. “We are seeing an overwhelming amount of students dealing with the stress of the past two years, compounded with the ongoing pressures of today’s education landscape. Through listening to Gen Z, we’ve learned the best way to support is to give them tools and resources to prioritize their mental health. In this case, it’s helping to identify triggers and manage the common and understandable anxiety associated with one aspect of the school experience.”
When it comes to the top stressors for students, schoolwork has a significant impact on their mental health. A prior survey commissioned by Quizlet reported nearly half of students found final exams and end-of-semester grades as top sources of stress impacting their mental well-being, indicating a continued need for tools like Quizlet that facilitate personalized learning and help students confidently navigate their learning journey.
“As students across the country head back to school both in-person and online, we understand they are juggling an increasingly uncertain world, new pressures and competing priorities,” said Matt Glotzbach, Chief Executive Officer, Quizlet. “Quizlet helps students reach their full potential and our research shows that examiety is a major barrier preventing students from accomplishing their goals. By shining a light on examiety and providing a resource for students to better manage this specific source of anxiety, our aim is to support students’ mental health and wellbeing, and ultimately set them up to learn more efficiently and effectively.”
The survey exploring exam anxiety was fielded in July and August 2022, with a sample of 1,000 U.S. students between the ages of 18-25.
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