International Council for Education, Research and Training

Prevalence of Examination Anxiety among Undergraduates: Implications for Counselling

Haruna, Abubakar Sadiq1,2

Gurjiya, Sani Ahmadu1

Lukman, Sheu Adaramaja1

1Department of Educational Foundations, Federal University Gusau, Nigeria


2Maryam Abacha American University of Nigeria


The paper examined the prevalence of examination anxiety among undergraduates and its implications for counselling. The study employed a cross-sectional survey design in which 368 students were sampled from a population of 8,989 (male 60.6%; female 39.4%) undergraduates at Federal University Gusau (FUGUS) following a stratified random sampling technique. Data were obtained via an instrument called the University Examination Anxiety Scale (UEAS) whose reliability coefficient of 0.699 was estimated through the Cronbach Alpha statistic. Five null hypotheses were tested with t-test and Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) at 0.05 significance. Findings from the study revealed a significant prevalence of examination anxiety among undergraduates. Whereas the prevalence of examination anxiety did not differ with respect to gender, age group, and students-faculty, a significant difference was however established among the various levels of the undergraduate programme in the university. The implication of these findings for counselling is that the tension induced by test anxiety needs to be reduced to enable the students concentrate on their examination. This could be achieved by employing biofeedback and psycho-education approaches. The study recommends among others that counsellors should empower undergraduate students with simple strategies to reduce examination anxiety such as mindfulness techniques and simple deep breathing exercises.

Keywords: Examination anxiety prevalence, Undergraduates, Gender, Counselling implications

Impact statement

Examination anxiety is a psychological phenomenon characterized by feelings of unease, nervousness, and fear that can significantly impact a person’s performance in academic assessments, which is very common among undergraduates. 

The present study found that a significant proportion of undergraduate students in Federal University Gusau experience some level of examination anxiety. Similarly, previous studies have reported that undergraduates experience moderate to high levels of examination anxiety. Although, prevalence may vary across different institutions, gender and levels of study, the overall trend suggests that examination anxiety is a widespread concern among undergraduate students.

Therefore, counselling services that address examination anxiety can provide students with the necessary tools and strategies to manage and perform better in their studies. Creating a supportive and open environment within educational institutions is crucial for effectively addressing this problem.

About The Author

Abubakar Sadiq Haruna, Ph.D.

A faculty member of the Department of Educational Foundations, Federal University Gusau and a visiting professor of counselling psychology with Maryam Abacha American University of Nigeria (MAAUN).  He is presently the Editor-In-Chief of MAAUN International Multidisciplinary Journal of Research and Innovations (MIMJRI); Publication Editor of Zamfara International Journal of Education (ZIJE); Managing Editor of Kano Journal of Educational Psychology and Chairman, Nigerian Society for Educational Psychologists (NISEP), Kano/Jigawa Branch. A member of Editorial Board of World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology (WASET); Member American Psychological Association (APA). Abubakar Sadiq Haruna is also the Director, Institute of African Higher Education Research and Innovations (IAHERI), an affiliate of Maryam Abacha American University of Nigeria (MAAUN); current Secretary General of the Association of African Private Universities (AAPU).

Ahmad Sani Gurjiya, Ph.D.

Senior Lecturer with the Department of Educational Foundations, Faculty of Education, Federal University Gusau, Zamfara State. He specializes in Educational Psychology. Chairman, Students’ Project and Research Committee, Department of Educational Foundations, Federal University Gusau, Zamfara State, Nigeria. 

Sheu Adaramaja Lukman Ph.D.

Senior Lecturer at the Department of Educational Foundations, Faculty of Education, Federal University Gusau, Zamfara State. Specialized in Educational Research, Measurement and Evaluation. Dr Sheu is a researcher and Psychometrician who has published widely; local, national and international. He is a member of Association of Educational Researcher & Evaluators of Nigeria (ASSEREN), Association of Behavioural Research Analysts and Psychometricians (AB-REAP) and History of Education Society of Nigeria. Dr Sheu is the Present Faculty of Education Examination Officer and Postgraduate Coordinator. 


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