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The efficacy of interventions for test-anxious university students: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

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  • C.D. Huntley
  • B. Young
  • J. Temple
  • M. Longworth
  • C.T. Smith
  • V. Jha
  • P.L. Fisher
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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/04/2019
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Anxiety Disorders
Volume63
Number of pages15
Pages (from-to)36-50
Publication statusPublished
Early online date6/02/19
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Test anxiety (TA) is highly distressing and can significantly undermine academic performance. Many randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of interventions for university students with TA have been conducted, but there has been no systematic review of their efficacy. This meta-analysis examines the efficacy of interventions for test-anxious university students in: (i) reducing TA, and (ii) improving academic performance. We searched for RCTs published in English language peer-reviewed journals. Forty-four RCTs met our eligibility criteria (n = 2,209). Interventions were superior to control conditions at post-treatment for reducing TA (g = −0.76) and improving academic performance (g = 0.37). Interventions were superior to control conditions at follow-up. Subgroups analyses found most support for behaviour therapy. Cognitive-behavioural therapy, study skills training, and combined psychological and study skills training interventions show promise but lack evidence for their longer-term efficacy, and results are based upon a small number of studies. Evidence of publication bias was found and poor quality of reporting meant that confidence in results should be moderated. Future RCTs should be conducted and reported with greater rigour, have larger samples, and examine newer interventions.