Researchers at the University of Illinois in the US found that undergraduate students with high levels of test anxiety who sought support from their online friends and read the messages prior to a simulated exam reduced their anxiety levels by 21 per cent.
These students and peers who performed a seven-minute expressive writing exercise were able to perform as well on a set of computer programming exercises as students who had low levels of test anxiety, said Robert Deloatch, a graduate student at the university.
Up to 41 percent of students are estimated to suffer from test anxiety, which is a combination of physiological and emotional responses that occur while preparing for and taking tests.
Students with high test anxiety strongly fear negative evaluation, have lower self-esteem and tend to experience increased numbers of distracting and irrelevant thoughts in testing situations, according to the study.
The day before the experiment, students in the social support group posted messages on their personal social media pages requesting encouragement - in the form of likes, comments or private messages - about an upcoming computer programming challenge they planned to participate in.
Conclusions of the study:
"We found that only the students who received supportive messages from their Facebook network showed a significant decrease in anxiety and an increase in their performance on our simulated exam," Researchers Says.