1st Edition

Understanding and Helping to Overcome Exam Anxiety What Is It, Why Is It Important and Where Does It Come From?

By David Putwain Copyright 2025
    188 Pages 25 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    188 Pages 25 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This important book considers what we know about test and exam anxiety, including how it is defined, its characteristics, how it can be identified, why and how it develops, and what can be done to support test-anxious students.

    Addressing the pressures of preparing for and taking high-stakes tests and exams in many educational systems throughout the world, the book offers additional steps that schools, policymakers, and parents can take to further reduce test anxiety. Looking at the science and providing readers with an accessible framework of facts and no-nonsense details, the book addresses the most frequently asked questions and topics including the difference between exam stress and exam anxiety, the signs and indicators of exam anxiety, and the consequences of exam anxiety on educational achievement. Former teacher and current Professor and leading authority on Exam Anxiety, David Putwain includes a chapter explaining psychological interventions for test anxiety, specifically STEPS, an intervention designed to help professionals identify and support highly test-anxious students.

    Putwain’s book is essential reading for teachers, school leaders, parents and professionals involved in school welfare. It may also be of interest to councillors, government education departments and examining bodies.

    1. What is Exam Anxiety (and What is it Not)?
    2. How Prevalent is Exam Anxiety?
    3. What are Consequences of High Exam Anxiety for Educational Achievement?
    4. How does Exam Anxiety Relate to Mental Health and Well-Being?
    5. How Does Exam Anxiety Arise; Where Does it Come From?
    6. Interventions for Exam Anxiety; What Can be Done About It?
    7. Educational Policy; What Does the Future Hold?


    David Putwain is Professor of Education at Liverpool John Moores University, UK. His research interests focus on the motivations and emotions that arise in achievement settings and how these impact, and are in turn impacted by, achievement, well-being, and mental health. David has been researching test and exam anxiety for over twenty years.

    "There is a great deal of attention currently being given to issues relating to mental health and stress in young people. Do not make the mistake of thinking that this book is just another contribution to a cluttered sector of anecdotes, catastrophizing and quick fixes. David Putwain’s contribution is learned, whilst also being an accessible and interesting read. More importantly it is an evidence based, rational and thoughtful contribution from an academic with a substantial background in the area. It explores the definitions, prevalence, and impact of high exam stress, and then shows how this issue can be managed to improve the experience and outcomes of this group of students. An example of an area that most will find interesting is dealing with the often-cited belief that ‘a little bit of stress is a good thing’, whilst not denying some partial truth in this notion the author explores it in revealing ways and then goes on to show what this means for classroom practice. An accessible academic book that explores a very topical misunderstood and misrepresented area, that also gives practical suggestions for applying the findings, this is well worth reading and seeing what gains you can take from it. As the leader of an outstanding Sixth Form College that has been at the forefront of adopting lessons from cognitive science for many years, I found this book to be thought provoking and will take lessons learnt from it to inform some of our future teaching and curriculum developments."

    - Mike Kilbride, Principal, Birkenhead 6th Form College, and CEO BePART Trust

    "Whilst taking exams may be a part of life, experiencing exam anxiety doesn't need to be! Drawing on theory and research, this authoritative book provides plenty of practical suggestions for identifying and supporting students with exam anxiety. A must-read for anyone working with students anxious about exams."

    - Wendy Symes, Research Fellow, University of Hamburg