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The causes of test anxiety may surprise you

As online learning continues to grow, so has testing anxiety. Learners have concerns about the technology, the process and the presence of live proctors.

But online proctoring doesn’t need to add to the stress of test-taking. When institutions create the proper environment and prepare test takers for online assessments, they report that having a live proctor can actually reduce anxiety. Further, effective proctor training can build confidence.

To learn more about test anxiety during a proctored online exam, Honorlock conducted a survey. Jordan Adair, VP of Product at Honorlock, recently sat down with Tests and the Rest podcast to share the survey results and discuss how remote proctors can help reduce test anxiety.

What is test anxiety?

Test anxiety is any physical and emotional reaction that negatively impacts a test takers ability to perform well on a test. 

5 key learnings from the test anxiety survey:

1. How do test takers react to proctored online exams?

Regardless of how well-prepared the test taker is, many still feel a sense of anxiety.

In the online proctoring space, this is often increased, as test takers may be unfamiliar with the online proctoring system or the method of proctoring that will be used on a particular exam. The findings indicated that even well-prepared test takers are likely to feel anxious heading into a proctored assessment, with 64% agreeing or strongly agreeing with the statement “taking an online test makes me nervous.”

2. Does the environment affect test anxiety?

Test takers experience testing anxiety both in-person and online, so it isn’t just the environment. The increase in online assessments has heightened anxiety due to concerns about the technology, the testing process, and the presence of live test proctors.

3. What causes test anxiety?

It mostly stems from not understanding how online proctoring works and not knowing what to expect.

3 main causes of test anxiety

Technology concerns and how to use the proctoring software

Test takers often worry about their device work with the online proctoring software and other issues, such as internet connection.

Unaware of what behaviors may be flagged

They may not understand what behaviors are acceptable and what may be flagged by the proctoring solution or live proctor.

Unfamiliar with how interactions with a proctor will go

Potentially interacting with a proctor can be nerve-racking, especially if the test taker hasn’t never experienced it before.

4. What can help reduce test anxiety?

When you create a proper test environment and prepare learners beforehand, they report that a live proctor can actually reduce anxiety.

Describe how online proctoring works

A basic understanding of how online proctoring works goes a long way. Give learners a high-level overview of how the online proctoring software works and what they can expect before, during, and after the exam.

Explain what behaviors may trigger flags from the proctoring platform

Test takers need to know what behaviors are appropriate compared to those that can trigger a flag. 

For example, here are the things test takers think might get flagged (none of these actually cause flags in Honorlock):

Offer practice exams

After they understand the basics of how online proctoring works and what behavior is acceptable, let them use it.

Practice exams provide learners with the opportunity to get comfortable with using the online proctoring platform, making sure their technology works, and interacting with a live proctor.

Show them where to find support

Make sure test takers know where to find support if they need it. Ideally, live support will be available 24/7 without having to leave the exam window. 

5. How does remote proctor training help with test anxiety?

How proctors are trained is crucial for helping reduce test anxiety. They need the ability to identify symptoms of test anxiety and stress and how to positively interact with test takers during the proctored tests.

Identifying symptoms of test anxiety and signs of stress

Proctors should be trained to spot physical behaviors and signs of stress. Test anxiety symptoms can include things such as lip licking, excessive throat clearing, propping the head up, and touching or rubbing the face. 

Positive interactions

Once physical signs of stress and anxiety are identified, proctors need to understand how to best interact with a test taker. This includes approaching a them in a helpful manner and then having the correct training and tools to help alleviate any stressful situation while decreasing the risk of confrontation. 

Honorlock’s remote proctoring team received training from a nationally certified counselor to learn how to de-escalate test takers who are stressed or anxious and reduce anxiety so that they can continue taking the exam.

Positive interactions with a proctor can have a lasting impact on reducing test anxiety. In fact, a test anxiety survey found that 100% of test takers who interacted with an Honorlock proctor responded “Yes” to the interview question, “Did the proctor make you less anxious?”

Applying these key learnings can help build confidence and prepare learners to perform their best on exams.

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