Appearing for exams is always a huge task. No matter the level of the examination, students always feel anxious. Text anxiety is a real issue. It makes the students’ minds go blank in the middle of an examination for a certain time. Students achieve good grades and accomplish great things in life even with all that.
It happens to most students. One should follow a few techniques to encounter this issue, but it is difficult to identify which method to use. In this article, we will be discussing all the necessary actions the students need to take to overcome this problem.
Overview of test anxiety issue
Many students deal with blanking out the issue. They might have all prepared well before their examination and even helped each other understand the concepts. But when they walked into the exam hall, after a few minutes of starting the examination, all those practice problems, readings, and lectures vanished from their minds. And suddenly, their minds go blank.
Due to that, they would start to worry, and there would be an increase in their anxiety levels, so they would have to force themselves to answer the questions even if they do not know the appropriate answers. As a result, the students would end up getting mediocre scores.
Therefore, the students would be very frustrated and feel like they are not capable of studying. Blanking out is a classic sign of exam anxiety.
How does anxiety work?
Test anxiety is an issue that can interfere with both performance and memory. As anxiety increases, there will be a rise in the difficulty level of the examination. This whole process is a vicious cycle.
In technical terms, anxiety can work as a part of a feedback loop that could generate its momentum. Your brain will be on an alert once you have experienced test anxiety. So, as a result, you will start wondering, “What if it happens again?”With that, there will only be more anxiety and nervousness. It could potentially increase physical symptoms of tension, namely increased heartbeat, difficulty focusing and shallow breathing, etc.
With experience in anxiety, it is common for our brain cells to get easily nudged into fight or flight mode, which will probably disrupt the memory.
There are a variety of techniques one could follow to reduce test anxiety. Still, the most difficult thing is to identify which solution works for what kind of problem or which combination it would work. Hence, this problem is complex.
How to solve the issue – a real-time example
It takes tons of creativity and patience to solve complex problems. Sometimes, you cannot solve the problem on your first try, and it might take several tries to get it right. The trial-and-error method is how we could solve or reduce this issue.
Now let us see a real-life example of solving a complex problem. In 2010, there was a major problem in Chile. 33 miners got trapped in an underground mine for around 70 days. They were still alive; however, their exit was blocked.
A direct solution for this problem would be to drill all the way through to them. But they could not do it. This direct solution majorly dislodges tons of rocks the miners have to dig through. However, drilling at an angle would be too risky because the new tunnel may collapse.
There seemed to be many ideas, but it felt impossible to tell which one would be right. Therefore, the rescuers decided to go with the three most promising ones and tried them one by one, and rescued the miners safely.
Hence, from this real incident, we understand that it might be very hard to choose the right decision that would work; however, we can easily decide if we think it through.
No place is perfect
Sometimes, it is better to go on with a combined approach because it might work well. Using the right interventions, we can change the cycles. Commonly, the existing cycles get disrupted often, as there are new responses from time to time. Therefore, one can say that the cycles feed on themselves.
Most students with exam anxiety have tried to change it using various techniques. Some basic methods they might have used are distracting themselves from the problem, ignoring it, giving pep talks to themselves, studying for extra hours, hiring a private tutor, and cramming before tests.
For some, one or two of these techniques might have worked; for some, all of the methods will work; for some, nothing will work. Therefore, it all depends on the student. No one can surely tell which one will work and which ones will not.
Most students have struggled with the blank mind issue in their schools and colleges. Some have overcome it, and some still struggle. An essential piece of advice would be to change your approach to studies or develop relevant skills. It might work. Although, test anxiety is such a complex problem that it happens deep in your brain.
Moreover, the real key to outplaying this issue would be having the ‘never lose the confidence’ attitude. Having a strong mindset would be of big help in fighting against this issue. “Confidence is the key to success” is not just a saying but also strong and very important advice.
The rescue mission happens in stages. It might take loads and loads of time and effort. There is a saying, ‘Eiffel Tower is not built in a single day’. Likewise, everything in this world takes time and patience. It goes the same with a test anxiety issue. The students can expect a gradual improvement in their performance if they put on enough hard work.
Plan for the worst
Yes, you heard it right! Always have a worst-case scenario in mind. Imagine what would be the worst thing that could happen. It does not mean your thoughts are negative; it is just that you are preparing yourself even for unexpected things. We cannot say if it is a good unexpected, like a surprise, or a bad unexpected, like a shock. So, it is always recommended to plan what reactions come after your actions.
When you prepare yourself for anything, you will not be so broken or frustrated even if your results are bad. It will only make you stronger. Sometimes, students try to make everything happen too quickly. It will only make things worse. While experiencing failures, the students should prepare themselves psychologically and make their morale go up, which would help them maintain their confidence levels even during bad times.
Build a new cycle
Test anxiety can be seen as a complex circle of thoughts, physical responses, feelings, and confidence. Hence, if you want to change the cycle, you might need to intervene on one or all of these levels. It requires relaxing your muscles and calming your breathing.
Furthermore, you might require some basic tools to help you address the negative thoughts regarding exams. Sometimes, this method will even work on you. These tools will have a major positive impact and help reduce the negative thoughts and feelings before or during the examination. It is important to have a carefully crafted plan for your study.
Along with that, it is fundamental to keep the following points in mind:
1. Be persistent
Be persistent; however, it might take longer than expected; the change will take time but will not take forever. Persistence is the key to success. Try expecting relief little by little over new strategies. Also, try to be strong psychologically over time.
2. Always have a backup plan
It is not always possible to be right at the first attempt itself. The students might need more takes to achieve something good. This cycle is where you need to attempt, and if you fail, move on and attempt your next shot with different strategies. A trial and error method is the best way to achieve success in such scenarios.
3. Focus on both confidence and competence
The students should rebuild their confidence after every failure they go through. It is considered the most important thing, especially for test anxiety. The students would accomplish their dreams if they tried hard enough and did not give up. As they get better at test-taking skills, it boosts their confidence and helps them hold on to new strategies.
FAQs about mind goes blank during an exam
What will be the impact of test anxiety?
Test anxiety can impact a student in many ways. On some occasions, there are huge possibilities that the students might feel performance anxiety. Likewise, test anxiety can provide them with a headache or a stomach ache. Some students might feel sweaty or shaky, or their heartbeats are racing up.
Mention some simple remedies for test anxiety?
The following are some of the strategies that will help students reduce or eliminate their test anxiety:
Never ignore how you feel
Get plenty of sleep
Do regular exercises
Have healthy eating habits
Learn relaxation techniques
Talk to a counsellor or your teacher
Sleep before midnight and wake up early
Do practice tests as often as possible
Study early in the morning
Learn to study effectively
Use time productively
Is test anxiety common?
Test anxiety is one of the most commonly occurring incidents inside a classroom. It starts at kindergarten and goes on until the student finishes college. It occurs for most students. It still occurs for adults appearing for state-level or national-level government examinations. It has been estimated that 40 to 60 % of students experience test anxiety.
How do tests affect students?
Attempting a test can give anxiety, no matter the difficulty level of the test. Students always feel a certain level of anxiousness while appearing for their examinations. Apart from that, some students are stressed and frustrated if they do not know the answers to certain questions.
In addition, if the students do not prepare for their exams well, they will feel sadness and depression because they might fail that examination.
Can test anxiety be cured?
Test anxiety is known to be stressful and unpleasant. However, it is treatable to a certain extent. If the students feel that this issue interferes with their ability to perform well, they should try doing any of the remedial measures we have discussed in this blog.
In a nutshell, every problem has its solutions. Even the most difficult problems, such as rescuing a life, will have solutions. Likewise, there are many solutions to the test anxiety issue. The fundamental thing is to choose the right strategy at the right time. It will solve most of the issues.
Having our minds go blank in an examination is not the end of the world. It is very common among students, and many are experiencing it in every exam they are attempting. We can easily sort it out using the above-mentioned remedial measures.