Attainment tests are an important aspect of measuring knowledge demonstrated or the outcomes that following instructions in a specific program. Intelligence tests determine an individual’s abilities being a reflection of experience gained in other means not necessarily part of school curriculum. However, examinee performance in these tests has been noted to vary from one kind of environmental setting to the other due to a number of both environmental and examinee factors (Pinku & Birenbaum, 1997)..
For instance, environmental factors such as climatic stress due to global warming have over time impacted greatly on the conditions under which psychological tests are taken. Test environments vary substantially from place to place and also due to the cognitive demands of an assessment task. Recently, there have been extensive studies conducted to analyze the impact of test environments on mental performance. Much emphasis has especially been laid on the test environments that impact negatively on performance in tests and which are responsible for the misrepresentation of the competence of one’s mind.
Test anxiety Test anxiety encompasses the behavioral, physiological and psychological responses that reflect apprehension regarding a possibility of failing during an evaluative test. Studies have indicated that there is a direct correlation between test anxiety and poor test scores (Gregory, 1996). However, there are two categories of test anxiety: (1) those who suffer from interfering thoughts during an exanimation and which compromise performance; and (2) those who suffer from the inability to learn by organizing the necessary information for recall when taking a test.
The first category is referred to as the interference model while the second is referred to as the skill deficit model. According to research, test anxiety due to the inability to organize and learn essential information could be enhanced by inadequate study behaviors. This leads to poor scores since the examinee never learns the necessary material and which is the most basic requirement for good performance. Thus, test anxiety in such an occasion is usually exacted by unpreparedness and not performance decline per se (Holahan & Culler 1980).
With reference to the condition of interfering thoughts, high anxiety leads to responses and thoughts that are not relevant to the test and these occupy much of the processing space in the mind. Competition for processing space by these responses affects the test related responses that are important for succeeding in an evaluation test. This leads to poor performance as test anxiety causes problems in recalling test-relevant information learned due to the maladaptive responses associate with irrelevant thoughts.
Studies have shown that the test examiner can help the examinees in handling test anxiety by encouraging and helping them to relax before administering the test. Preparing adequately before a test can help learners to avoid studying at the last minute which increases anxiety. Being at the examination room quite on time and thinking about what ones knows about the subject being tested rather than what one does not know also helps reduce anxiety. Concentrating on the positive rather than negative and irrational thoughts can help in maintaining the mind at peace and hence reducing anxiety.
It is also necessary that stressful tasks or situations are not scheduled just before one takes a test. Climatic Stress The physical conditions in which an examinee takes a test has an immense impact on the test’s score. For instance the environmental conditions such as high temperatures and humidity in the tropical region where close to two-thirds of the whole world population take their tests are unfavorable. It is important to note that systems that can correct such imbalances are not always available to every examinee.
In the tropics for instance, examinees take tests in an environment with high and uncomfortable heat and high humidity. Current studies indicate that environmental stressors like high humidity and temperate can by impairing mechanisms such as selective attention and short-term memory affect performance negatively. According to Auliciems (1972), the short-term memory is paramount for the basic processing of information during a test. On the other hand, selective attention is a requisite for performing successfully in a psychological test.
These aspects of the mind are essential in enabling the examinee to rule out stimuli that is irrelevant to the test task especially when an examinee ought to think laterally (Gregory, 1996). Given their importance in influencing test scores, these two domains: selective attention and auditory short-term memory have been studied through the Stroop and Digit span tests respectively and found to impact negatively on performance if distorted. Incase of uncomfortable environmental stress, the administration can ensure a conducive environment by installing the appropriate corrective measures such as air conditioning systems.
Other factors such as hostility between the examiner and examinee which can significantly distract the two domains or block concentration can be effectively handled by seeking help from a mentor or a counselor. This helps the examinee to relax and take the test positively. It is indeed important that the mind as well as the body work in the most conducive environment for impressive test results to be attained.
References Auliciems, A. (1972). Some observed relationships between the atmospheric environment and Mental work. Environmental Research, 5, pp. 217-240. Gregory, R. J. (1996). Psychological testing: History, principles, and applications (2nd Ed. ). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon. Holahan, C. J. , & Culler, R. E. (1980). Test anxiety and academic performance: The effects of study related behaviors. Journal of Educational Psychology, 72, pp. 16-20. Pinku, P. , & Birenbaum, M. (1997). Effects of test anxiety, Information organization, and testing situation on performance on two test formats. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 22, pp. 23-38.