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Testhobia (phobia of tests and exams): symptoms, causes and treatment

Testhobia (phobia of tests and exams): symptoms, causes and treatment

October 4, 2022

The testofobia is intense and persistent fear of exams. It is a specific phobia of a situational type related to the negative experience of being evaluated. Although the testofobia usually begins in early adulthood, it can also be generated during childhood, since it is the fear of a common practice in our current societies.

Then we will see in more detail what is the testofobia , what are some of its causes and how can it be treated?

  • Related article: "Types of phobias: exploring the disorders of fear"

Testhobia: fear of exams

The term testofobia takes on the one hand the word "test", which in English means "test" or "examination", and on the other, the word "phobia", which comes from Greek "fobos" ("fear"). Thus, the "testofobia" means fear of exams and evaluation tests .

The testofobia is not recognized as a particular clinical picture by specialists in psychology and psychiatry. However, the term is usually found in colloquial literature to describe the experience of persistent fear of evaluations.

In this sense the testofobia it could be considered as a specific phobia . Specific phobias, on the other hand, are characterized by an intense and persistent fear, excessive or irrational, that is triggered by the presence or anticipation of specific objects or situations (Bados, 2005). These objects or situations can be from animals, to the need to present an exam, as it is in this case.

Likewise, specific phobias can be of a situational type, when fear is induced by specific situations. In that case it would be the situations related to the application of tests. On the other hand, the testofobia is related to social phobia, in that it implies the persistent fear of situations that involve exposing oneself to the evaluation of others.

That is to say that, although the application of tests and exams is by itself a potentially stressful situation ; The testofobia occurs when this situation is experienced with a fear that exceeds the rational justification and that generates a series of behaviors and physiological reactions linked to anxiety. This irrationality of fear is even recognized by the person who experiences it.

  • Maybe you're interested: "Types of Anxiety Disorders and their characteristics"


As we have said, testofobia can be characterized by the presence of physiological reactions associated with anxiety states , triggered by situations that involve the application of an exam (which may be in the school context, but also in the sporting or recreational context, or any related to high performance, logic of success-failure and competition). The latter is a situation that is perceived as harmful, which causes the activation of the sympathetic nervous system and generates a series of involuntary motor reactions.

These reactions are, for example, tachycardia, palpitations, increased blood pressure, sensation of suffocation, dizziness , sweating, decreased gastrointestinal activity, etcetera. In addition, as soon as an anxiety response is triggered, specific phobias often generate panic attacks.

As with other phobias, test phobia can generate other secondary behaviors, which, such as the experience of anxiety, are not easily observable, but have a negative impact on the daily activities of those who experience them.

It is, for example, fears related to everything that is around presenting some proof , or it can also include behaviors like avoidance to the same circumstance, since, otherwise, they are experienced as intense discomforts.

Likewise, test phobia can be one of the manifestations of anxiety disorders or other types of more complex and profound experiences,

Possible causes and development of this phobia

The fear that characterizes phobias is related to the possibility of suffering harm; regardless of whether this damage has occurred previously, and without necessarily considering the actual probability that it will occur. On the other hand, such fear may be caused by a previous experience where the damage has actually occurred.

In this sense, the testofobia can be generated well by the direct negative consequences of having failed in exams or previous tests ; or, it may be caused by the meanings associated with the experience of being evaluated and of failing, even if the previous results have been mostly positive.

The latter may also be related to expectations and demands generated by the surrounding environment , and that do not necessarily correspond to the person's performance, abilities or interests.

On the other hand, situation-specific phobias tend to develop in early adulthood, although in some cases they occur during childhood. It usually happens that the fear of the situation is presented in a rational but persistent way during childhood, but do not trigger a phobia until adulthood .

Bados (2005) tells us that in some studies it has been reported that it can take around 9 years between the onset of fear and that of phobia. In addition, specific phobias are more common in women (three women per man), although this may vary according to the specific situation in question.


As with other phobias, there are different strategies that can help decrease the experience of discomfort related to the stressful situation . These strategies range from the analysis and modification of the meanings attributed to the stimulus that generates stress (in this case, the experience of being evaluated through an exam), to the relearning of emotional coping styles to the same situation.

In the specific case of the testofobia it is important to ensure that the situations that are around the application of a test (that is, what happens before and after the moment of presenting it), generate experiences of tranquility and not just stress.

In other words, it is important to compensate for the tensions caused by the excessive need for study, with other activities or experiences that provide relaxation. In the same way, it is important assertively manage the results of the test , especially when it comes to unexpected or unsatisfactory results.

Bibliographic references:

  • Testophobia (2017). Common-phobias. Retrieved August 31. Available at //
  • Bados, A. (2005). Specific phobias. Faculty of Psychology, University of Barcelona. Retrieved August 31, 2018. Available at //
  • Talha, M. (2004). Phobia A select annotated bibliography. Dissertation for the award of the degree of Master of Library & Information Science. Aligarh Muslim University (India). Retrieved August 31, 2018. Available at //
  • Testophobia-Fear of taking test (S / A). Phobia Source. Retrieved August 31, 2018. Available at //

Hobie in der Bar3000 (October 2022).

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