Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Tackling test anxiety: a randomised controlled trial of attention bias modification training in students with test anxiety

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Who this event is for

  • Everyone


Glasgow room, B building, Harcourt Hill Campus


Individuals with different types of anxiety, including test anxiety, may show an attention bias towards threatening stimuli, relative to neutral stimuli and non-anxious individuals.  There is a growing body of evidence that suggests it may be possible to reduce anxiety by targeting this attention bias using attention bias modification training. This talk will discuss the findings of a British Academy-funded study that investigated whether attention bias modification training can reduce anxiety in test anxious students, and, if so, whether this reduction in anxiety has a positive impact on examination performance. 

Forty test anxious students were randomised to one of three conditions and received either attention bias modification training or one of two control interventions. The interventions were delivered via computer at the students’ schools, and took approximately two hours to complete. Participants completed measures of test anxiety and attention bias before and after completing the intervention. GCSE mock exam grades were collected before the intervention, and actual GCSE results were collected in August.

Self-reported test anxiety was significantly lower in all three conditions following intervention. Attention bias away from threat increased for students in the treatment condition, although changes in attention bias were not statistically significant. Analysis of the impact of the training on GCSE performance is still ongoing, but early evidence suggests that attention bias modification represents a possible treatment for test anxiety.