In this present study, we explore whether examination stress among 9th graders in Taiwan is related to their personal characteristics, specifically whether students subject to high levels of examination stress have a certain pattern of characteristics. The sample consists of 1,858 9th graders in Taiwan. The Examination Stress Scale (ExamSS) was used as a measure of examination stress. Scores from the Comprehensive Assessment Program (CAP) 2014, the largest standardized achievement test for junior high school students in Taiwan, were used as an index of academic achievement. A questionnaire compiled by the researcher and comprising 26 dichotomous questions was used to measure personal characteristics, including uncertainty, neuroticism, extroversion, low self-esteem, and locus of control. A latent class analysis (LCA) was conducted to categorize students according to the data of ExamSS, CAP 2014, and personal characteristics. The LCA results show that the data best fit a four-classes model, classifying students into high-stress-medium-achievement (22%), medium-stress-high-achievement (26%), low-stress-medium-achievement (32%), and low-stress-low-achievement (20%). The profiles of these four classes show that, by comparison with the medium-stress-high-achievement group and the low-stress-medium-achievement group, the high-stress-medium-achievement group has higher rates of uncertainty and neuroticism, lower extroversion and self-esteem, and greater tendency to externalize the locus of control. In the other hand, the low-stress-low-achievement group is shown to have low self-esteem, and medium uncertainty and external locus of control. In this study, we have found that examination stress is correlated with personal characteristics, such as uncertainty, neuroticism, extroversion, low self-esteem, and external locus of control. According to the results of this present study, some suggestions were proposed, hoping that educational policy can be used to change social atmosphere and provide counselling in schools where it is needed so as to effectively reduce examination stress among adolescents.
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