, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 275-287

Comorbidity of test anxiety and other anxiety disorders in children

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Elementary school children with clinically significant test anxiety, as determined by self-report and a clinical interview, were assessed for the incidence of other fears and anxiety. The results indicated that test-anxious children reported more fears and general worries than their non-test-anxious peers. As expected, the test-anxious children experienced more negative cognitions and subjective distress when taking a test. Furthermore, the fear of negative evaluation was not limited to an actual test, since these children also reported identical symptoms when engaged in a second social-evaluative task. Finally, 60% of the testanxious sample met DSM-III criteria for an anxiety disorder. The results are discussed in terms of the relationship of text anxiety to more complex social-evaluative dysfunctions, more pervasive anxiety conditions, DSM-III anxiety disorders, and the utility of test anxiety as an indicator of the presence of these more pervasive anxiety states.

This research is based on a dissertation conducted by the first author under the direction of the second author. Thanks are expressed to Stephen B. Manuck, Scott M. Monroe, Sharon Nelson-LeGall, and Saul Shiffman, who served as committee members. This study was supported in part by National Institute of Mental Health Grants No. 30915 and No. 16804, and a grant to the first author from the Sigma Xi Foundation.