Date of Graduation

Summer 2016


Master of Science in Nursing



Committee Chair

Susan Sims-Giddens


Test anxiety is a phenomenon that was identified through research in the domains of education and psychology during the 1950s – 1960s. As test anxiety and its effects have been identified and addressed in nursing programs, the same treatment modalities have been applied without evidence that nursing students experience test anxiety in the same manner as other students. The purpose of this study was to describe test anxiety as experienced by BSN nursing students using the sequential explanatory mixed methods design in an effort to gain insight into the anxiety experience of nursing students. A sample of 73 junior and senior nursing students was surveyed about their test anxiety experience. Survey results support that the test anxiety experience of nursing students is similar to other students based upon symptoms exhibited during testing (physical symptoms 71%, behavioral symptoms 62%, and cognitive symptoms 81%). High stakes testing was identified by 98% (n=72) of the students as the major trigger of test anxiety. All surveyed students (n=73) reported experiencing some level of test anxiety. From the survey's sample population, a subset of BSN students (n=7) volunteered and completed individual interpretive phenomenology meetings. The Parse Phenomenological Hermeneutic Research Method was used for data analysis. Reoccurring themes extrapolated from the research included: navigating a nursing program is not intuitive, consistency and organization within a nursing program is necessary to decrease student anxiety, and the volume of information in a nursing course contributes to test anxiety. This study concludes that the test anxiety experience in BSN nursing students presents identifiable triggers and characteristics that affect program retention and progression. KEYWORDS: test anxiety, nursing students, high stakes testing, program retention and progression, program anxiety, and capacity


test anxiety, nursing students, high stakes testing, program retention and progression, program anxiety, capacity

Subject Categories



© Annette Marie Keller

Open Access

Included in

Nursing Commons