Research on cognitive appraisal of stressful achievement events has emphasized threat appraisals and anxiety. The present research also focused on challenge and positive emotion. Study 1 used hypothetical scenarios of stressful events. Study 2 explored temporal pattems of appraisal and emotion prior to an exam. Compared with threat appraisals, trait and state challenge appraisals were associated with more confident coping expectancies, lower perceptions of threat, higher positive emotion, and more beneficial perceptions of the effects of appraisal and emotion on performance. Beneficial perceptions of state appraisals were associated with higher exam performance. These findings were interpreted in the context of theoretical perspectives on the cognitive appraisal of stressful events and the adaptive functions of challenge and positive emotion.