• academic examination;
  • anxiety;
  • Chinese children;
  • culture;
  • health;
  • locus of control

ABSTRACT Objectives: This study investigated the relationship between children's locus of control and their state anxiety scores, and determined whether children's locus of control could predict their state anxiety scores before academic examinations.

Design: A test-retest within subjects design was used.

Sample: 519 school children were invited to participate in the study.

Measurements: Participants were asked to respond to the Chinese version of the Nowicki-Strickland locus of control scale and state anxiety scale for children in stressful and nonstressful situations. The data were collected in 2005.

Results: There were significant strong positive correlations between the state anxiety and locus of control scores in the period before academic examinations. Multiple regression analysis showed that the Nowicki-Strickland locus of control score was a good predictor of children's state anxiety in a stressful situation.

Conclusions: This study supports the use of the Nowicki-Strickland locus of control scale as a screening tool to identify school children who are most likely to exhibit high levels of anxiety before academic examinations. Understanding children's locus of control in advance is a necessary step toward designing appropriate interventions to reduce their stress and bolster their coping mechanisms.