This study investigated the influence of gender and mode of study on examination anxiety among undergraduates. 77 regular students (37 males and 40 females) and 53 mature students (28 males and 25 females) were sampled. The sample were randomly selected from the population of both mature and regular students of Enugu State University of Science and Technology. The age range of the mature students were between 35 – 54 years with a mean age of 47 years and standard deviation of 6 years, while that of the regular students is between 19 – 26 years with a mean age of 22 years, and standard deviation of 4 years. 15 item questionnaire with likert 5 response format was used 2 x 2 factorial design was adopted while two way  ANOVA statistics was used for data analysis. Findings revealed that a significant influence of gender on examination anxiety  exist among undergraduates F, (1, 126) = 11.8 p< .01. And a significant influence of mode of study on examination anxiety exist also among undergraduates F, (1, 126) = 48.9 p < .01.There was a significant interaction influence of gender and mode of study on examination anxiety among undergraduates f (1, 126) = 2565.5 p < .01.Findings of the study were discussed, and recommendations were also made.



Background to the study

Low performance of students in exams especially external exam is no longer news in Nigeria. Over the years, stakeholders in this field having been working tirelessly to remedy the ugly phenomena unfortunately, their effort is yet to yield any significant impact. A situation that is giving all the tiers of Nigerian Government sleepless night. Various factors have been identified as hindrance to promoting academic excellence in Nigeria, among which are, poor funding of education, lack of infrastructure in the school, lack of man-power etc. On the part of the students, lack of interest, love for money or  what is known as get rich quick syndrome were identified. Unfortunately, none of them was able to see exam anxiety. At times, students will read very well  yet he or she will perform poorly in exam simply because of tension. Exam itself causes anxiety to some students (Nelson, 2001). studies have shown that exam anxiety makes a student to forget all that he or she studied (Nelson 2002).

          Clear understanding of features of anxiety is enough  proof to it’s effect on remembering. Anxiety causes muscle tension which makes the brain t be unrelaxed thereby causing forgetfulness.

          Anxiety is complex and mysterious. The more you learn about it, the more baffling it seems. It is a negative mood state that is characterized by bodily symptoms of physical tension and apprehension about the future. (American Psychological Association 1994; Durand & Barlow 2002). It can also be seen as a subjective sense  of unease, a set of behaviours (such as looking worried, anxious or fidgeting) or a physiological response originating in the brain and reflecting on elevated heart rate and muscle tension.

          During anxiety reactions or response, the heart, lungs, and other parts of the body work faster. The brain also releases the emergence (stress) hormone adrenaline and cortisol (Obidigbo, 2008) people who experience this disorder usually report being unhappy and behavious is maladaptive.

In school, some students experience some kind  of anxiety disorder within their stay in school, (Nelson, 2002) and the  most common is examination anxiety. Examination anxiety may manifest among students through admission of wrong or series of unwarranted fear, rapid breathing, through meticulous cautions. (Nelson 2002).

          In education, there is a common  measuring scale the method, or the process of evaluating the understanding and proficiency of a student in what he or she learns  within a given  time interval. The evaluation may be in two forms viz: formative or surmative education. The formative process is done during the instruction, while the surmative is done at the end of the course of the instruction. Therefore, a systematic procedure for measuring a sample of behavious is examination.

In school environment, one of the most arousing stimuli examination, and all signs of nervousness are observed among some of our students, but these signs seems to disappear as soon  as exams are over. This is mostly seen when the students did not prepare very well for the examination, or when they are given examination by surprise. They find it very difficult to concentrate on their work. Some will start sweating on their palms, as well as other parts of their body. A close watch on some students, one may see them dropping things like books, rulers and bags on the ground, which some will hit their legs on tables, chairs etc. All these are believed to be manifestations of examination anxiety (Wind, 2000). This has also Lead to the reduction in our standard of education, for instance, some of the secondary school students, who are too anxious about examination will fail an exam and to avoid this frustration, which will affect the student image or  regulation, they will resort to examination malpractice (Cheating) in order to scale through. Not because they are unintelligent, or that they did not prepare well for the exam, but because they are afraid to fail the exam.

The manifestation of examination anxiety differs, depending on the individual, students and the subjects, some students may enjoy calculations and dislike or avoid any subject that involves a lot of grammar or writing, while others may enjoy subjects with a lot of grammar and writing, and hate calculations. Most times, pressure from parents, teachers and environment contribute to this problem of examination anxiety. Parents and teachers mount so much pressure on these students to ensure that they perform better in their examination, but at a point, these students get too anxious about the exam and how they will perform, and the consequences of failing an examination. The resultant effect being that the over-anxious student will now perform very poorly in the examination. The environment maybe too stressful for these students to learn effectively and this will make them not to prepare well for the examination. The result of being afraid of an exanimation, results in failure or poor academic performance which brings united hardship and frustration to the students. This could be in form of having one’s hope dashed. For example, when we consider the problem involved in getting ourselves registered for an examination then it becomes frustrating when success is elusive. Also, the rigour involved when preparing for an examination becomes painful when the outcome is not positive.

Obviously, negative outcome of exam may be attributed to one of the factors that promote examination anxiety. When a student who expected to pass an exam eventually failed, such student may become tensed about exam. Above all, one may say that teacher student relationship have a role to play on tension that goes with exam anxiety. Obviously, the relationship between the teachers and matured students and that of lecturers and regular students is not the same. Therefore,  to determine whether this disparity in relationship has a race to play in examination anxiety, the present study is interested in comparing the level of examination anxiety among the two groups. Based on the discussion above, one may ask whether personality or other variables of an individual could affect or determine the level of the individual’s examination anxiety. Hence, the present study is designed to gives answer to the question by looking at the effect of gender and mode of study an examination.


Over the years, researchers have reported low performance of students in academic work. No wonder there is high decline of education in our society today. However, various factors such as, poor reading environment, lack of reading materials and so on have been identified as contributors to poor academic performance in our schools. Surprisingly, some schools with these facilities still have high levels of poor performance in exams especially external exams like National Examination and West Africa Examination. In addition, studies have identified factors such as examination anxiety as a bane for students’ low academic performance. (Nelson 2002). With reference to the discussion above, the present study deemed it necessary to look at role of factors such as gender and mode of study in determining Examination anxiety among Adolescents. Therefore, the following problems will be addressed in this study.

Will male and female undergraduates differ significantly on manifestation of examination anxiety.

Will regular and mature undergraduates differ significantly on manifestation of examination anxiety.


Gender: Being male or female

Examination anxiety: This will be determined based on the instrument used to measure the construct in this study.

 Mode of study: In this study, this simply means regular/full time students and matured part time students.