Does compassionate mind training reduce test anxiety in adolescents? A school-based pilot study

  • Dean O'Driscoll

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctorate in Educational, Child and Adolescent Psychology


The current pilot study explored the use of Compassionate Mind Training (CMT) as a school-based intervention for test anxiety among adolescents. The first research question examined self-compassion as a predictor of test anxiety after controlling for the effects of sex and trait anxiety. The second research question assessed the feasibility and effectiveness of CMT for test anxiety, trait anxiety, and self-compassion. Participants were 47 adolescents, aged 16 to 17 years old, attending sixth form of a post-primary school in Northern Ireland and enrolled to take qualifications beyond compulsory education. Participants were quasi-randomly allocated on the basis of timetable availability into an intervention group that received eight sessions of CMT (n = 22), or a control group that had access to normal support arrangements within school (n = 25), which related to assistance from the school counsellor or pastoral care staff. Participants in both groups completed pre- and post-intervention measures of test anxiety, trait anxiety, and self-compassion. Attendance and retention rates were used as an index of intervention feasibility. The findings indicated that higher self-compassion was significantly related to lower levels of test anxiety. CMT was also a feasible and effective intervention. Adolescents receiving CMT showed significant reductions in test anxiety and trait anxiety, as well as a significant improvement in self-compassion following the intervention compared to the control group. The findings highlight the potential value of CMT in supporting adolescents suffering from test anxiety in schools. Implications for Educational Psychology practice and areas for future research are discussed.

Thesis embargoed until 31 December 2023
Date of AwardDec 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorMaria McAleese (Supervisor)


  • Compassionate mind training
  • test anxiety
  • adolescent
  • school

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