Skip to main content

Do Practice Tests (Quizzes) Reduce or Provoke Test Anxiety? A Meta-Analytic Review


Practice testing is a powerful tool to consolidate long-term retention of studied information, facilitate subsequent learning of new information, and foster knowledge transfer. However, practitioners frequently express the concern that tests are anxiety-inducing and that their employment in the classroom should be minimized. The current review integrates results across 24 studies (i.e., 25 effects based on 3,374 participants) to determine the effect of practice tests (quizzes) on test anxiety (TA) and explore potential moderators of the effect. The results show strong Bayesian evidence (BF10 > 25,000) that practice tests appreciably reduce TA to a medium extent (Hedges’ g = -0.52), with minimal evidence of publication bias. Easy practice tests tend to be more effective in mitigating TA than difficult ones. These findings support a recommendation for instructors to incorporate quizzes into their curriculum. However, instructors should be aware that quizzes themselves may be more stressful than other learning activities. Methods to make quizzes less stressful and more enjoyable are discussed. Research on the effect of practice tests on TA is still in its infancy, and future research directions are highlighted.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

Data Availability

All data and analysis scripts are publicly available via the Open Science Framework (OSF) at


  1. For instance, both of these studies were conducted in a laboratory, only administered a single practice test, and measured how stressful participants perceived the practice test to be. By contrast, most (i.e., 22 out of 25) of the effects included in the meta-analysis were conducted in the classroom and all of them implemented multiple practice tests (e.g., administering a quiz each week across a whole semester) and measured participants’ TA about upcoming tests or exams. It should be noted that one of the included effects also measured anxiety experienced during practice tests (Higham et al., 2022). However, the study by Higham et al. (2022) differed from those by Hinze and Rapp (2014) and Wenzel and Reinhard (2021) in many key aspects. For instance, Higham et al.’s study was conducted in an Introduction to Psychology course across a semester, by comparison with the brief lab experiments conducted by Hinze and Rapp (2014) and Wenzel and Reinhard (2021). Higham et al. administered three practice tests (i.e., successive tests) on each weekly lecture, by comparison with the single practice test implemented by Hinze and Rapp (2014) and Wenzel and Reinhard (2021). We further review the study by Higham et al. (2022) in the General Discussion. It should be highlighted that the results do not change if Higham et al.’s (2022) results are excluded from the meta-analyses (see below for details).

  2. For the other nine effects, the studies did not provide sufficient information to identify their test formats, and hence were excluded from the sub-group analysis.

  3. Although Denny et al. (1964) and Dustin (1971) did not report detailed pretest TA data, both of them explicitly reported that there was minimal difference (e.g., t < 1) in pretest TA between the experimental and control groups.

  4. There was minimal heterogeneity among the effects involving pretest–posttest control group, between-subjects, and within-subjects designs, Q(2) = 1.38, p = .50, I2 = 81.1%, \({\tau }^{2}\)= 0.36. Hence, below we do not further discuss experimental design issues.

  5. Only one of the included effects assessed anxiety experienced during practice tests (Higham et al., 2022). After excluding this effect, the results again showed a robust negative effect on TA, g = -0.54, 95% CI = [-0.71, -0.37], p < .001.

  6. After excluding the effect of Higham et al. (2022) from this meta-regression analysis, the negative relationship persisted, b = -2.22, 95% CI = [-3.35, -1.09], p < .001.

  7. Instructors may have other negative evaluations about class quizzes. For instance, they may be concerned that quizzes squeeze time available for other teaching activities or may increase the attainment gap between students with good and poor learning abilities. Readers can consult recent reviews by Yang et al. (2021, 2023) which provide responses to several concerns that instructors may have about class quizzes.

  8. Several platforms or techniques are available to deliver gamified quizzes, such as Kahoot, Quizlet, Edupuzzle, Quizizz, and clicker response system.


References marked with an asterisk indicate studies included in the meta-analysis.

Download references


This research was supported by the Natural Science Foundation of China (32000742; 31671130; 32171045), the Research Program Funds of the Collaborative Innovation Center of Assessment toward Basic Education Quality at Beijing Normal University (2021-01-132-BZK01), and the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ES/S014616/1).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Liang Luo.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

All data and analysis scripts have been made publicly available via the Open Science Framework (OSF) at

Rights and permissions

Springer Nature or its licensor (e.g. a society or other partner) holds exclusive rights to this article under a publishing agreement with the author(s) or other rightsholder(s); author self-archiving of the accepted manuscript version of this article is solely governed by the terms of such publishing agreement and applicable law.

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Yang, C., Li, J., Zhao, W. et al. Do Practice Tests (Quizzes) Reduce or Provoke Test Anxiety? A Meta-Analytic Review. Educ Psychol Rev 35, 87 (2023).

Download citation

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • DOI: