Students who worry about performing well in their GCSE exams are more likely to do worse than those who don't stress and stay calm, new research has revealed.
Pupils who worried about their results scored up to one and a half grades lower than their peers, the study found. Teenagers were asked whether they agreed with 44 statements about their possible anxieties concerning exams, how confident they felt in dealing with this stress, and about strategies they might use to cope with it. Their comments included feeling nervous, the consequences of "failing" and how they would be viewed by others if they performed badly.
The research, which was carried out by Edge Hill University, the University of South Australia and the AQA exam board, surveyed 325 pupils from eight secondary schools in the North-West in the run-up to their final GCSE exams.
Researcher Dr Dave Putwain, Reader in Education at Edge Hill University, said: “There is no doubt that a high degree of worry over one’s performance, or the consequences of one's performance, has a detrimental effect on GCSE results. Our study, which was controlled for prior attainment and also how good students were at dealing with exam pressure, found that increased worry still predicted lower achievement.
"Our research found that worrying about exams significantly correlated with relatively bad GCSE performance,” said Dr Putwain. “However, pupils who acknowledged anxiety but reacted to it by ensuring they prepared well, tended to do better than those who did not.”