Background. In Turkey, university education is highly valued, and is considered a key to success and happiness in life. The gatekeeper for a university education is a central entrance exam. The entire process is lengthy, hard, and anxiety-provoking.
Objective. Our study aimed to investigate the factors associated with test anxiety related to the university entrance exam. The effects of the perceived attitudes of the student’s mother and father on his or her test anxiety are examined separately, and beyond the effect of other risk factors.
Design. The participants were 102 high school students and recent graduates between the ages of 14 and 19. Data was collected just before a test anxiety workshop, which was designed as part of an open day activity in a private, non-profit university. The workshop featured an interactive presentation about general anxiety, test anxiety, and coping strategies, which was followed by a progressive relaxation exercise.
Results. It was found that having a lower GPA score, being female, and having an increased level of neuroticism, as well as an increased level of perceived paternal acceptance and paternal control, were associated with higher levels of test anxiety.
Conclusion. The university entrance exam preparation period in Turkey is quite stressful for the students and creates an economic strain for their families. Considering that fathers are usually the financial authority figure within the households, paternal attitudes might predominantly affect the test anxiety level experienced by the student. In addition to paternal control, paternal acceptance might also be a source of stress since it, like control, includes “expectations” for the student’s success.
Keywords: test anxiety; paternal attitudes; neuroticism; high school students; high school graduates; university entrance exam