Music-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Can Improve Test Anxiety

Yukta Kulkarni ’22

Figure 1: Music can play a big role in cognition and thought processes, especially in students with testing anxiety.

From the ages of five to eighteen, school is a major part of a child’s life. A great deal of growing, making memories, and nurturing relationships are experienced during the hours a child is in school. However, education, with a focus on test performance, is considered the most important aspect of attending school. Unfortunately, many children suffer from test anxiety, something that is a discomfort before, during, and after a test. Test anxiety can cause grades to decline and mental health issues to develop, in addition to creating a divide between students. One way students have overcome this block is through Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), which has been shown to improve the regulation of emotions and encourage coping strategies. Although CBT is offered in various forms, results haven’t been exhibited with online CBT as there are low completion rates. However, previous studies have discovered that music-based CBT demonstrates increased completion rates, leading to its evaluation. Thus, Christian S. Ugwuanyi and their team of researchers hypothesized that music-based CBT will improve the management of test-related anxiety among students taking Basic Science. 

The researchers accomplished this by finding 58 students in Enugu State Nigeria who both regularly attended school and scored high on a pretest consisting of a test anxiety questionnaire (TAQ), determining their level of anxiety. All students were randomly split into an experimental (music-based CBT) and control group (conventional counseling) in accordance with the randomized controlled trial. After 12 weeks of therapy once a week, the TAQ posttest was administered. Students in the experimental group had a significantly lower mean test anxiety rating compared to students in the control group, whose level of test anxiety remained relatively constant. It is suggested that the music elicited greater attention while taking the test, leading to a decline in anxiety.

These results demonstrate a potential solution for alleviating test anxiety in students. With diminished anxiety, students can focus on learning and absorbing the material, as well as learn to have confidence in themselves and their ability to perform well. Since this method isn’t as common in schools, the researchers recommended that teachers, community leaders, and guidance counselors should apply for music-based CBT programs for their students. However, additional research will need to be conducted to determine if certain types of music lead to preferable results and if all students can experience these results with the same type of music. 


[1] C. Ugwuanyi, C. Okeke, M. Agboeze, Management of test anxiety among pupils in basic science using music-based cognitive behavior therapy intervention: implication for community development. Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy 39, 285-305 (2021). Doi: 

[2] Image retrieved from: 


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