Just imagine yourself sitting in the exam hall with the question paper in your hand. You are trying to pen down the answer to a question but suddenly you blank out. You try to recall the answer but the more you struggle, the further away the information feels. You may have been extremely confident when you sat down for the exam but in that very movement you feel helpless. The unfortunate situation you are going through is – mental blocks.
Why does it happen and is it common?
Mental blocks are caused due to exam anxiety. You may face this if you have a lot of built-up nervousness in your mind before the start of the exam or if you get stuck on a question in the exam. The fear of being unable to answer increases your stress and further hampers your ability to think clearly. The entire process is a vicious cycle.
It is very common for CA students to go through anxiety and many students face the blanking out issue. Most of us have experienced this at least once in our lives during a school or a college exams. Even if you are well prepared you may end up blanking out.
How to deal with this?
The reasons for experiencing a mental block can be very subjective and there is no direct solution for preventing mental blocks. However what is important is how we deal with it in an exam situation & recover quickly. Here are a few pro tips you should keep in mind while dealing with a Blank out situation in your CA Exams.
- Take a 5-minute breather:
When you are facing a mental block, your brain is not able to think clearly. There is a lot of confusion in your mind and your thoughts go haywire. Hence, your mind needs to snap out of the chaotic pattern and synchronize its thoughts. Take a 5-minute break and practice some deep breathing. This may seem like a waste of precious time, but it will help you to get back on track. Deep breathing will help you to calm down and re-align your thoughts. You can then re-focus on the exam.
- Rehydrate yourself:
The importance of staying hydrated during the exams is overlooked quite often. Studies have found that drinking water improves cognitive function of the brain and leads to improved performance in exams. Research also suggests that water consumption before the exams reduces test anxiety. Drinking water during the exam briefly distracts you from the stress and gives your mind a chance to refresh itself for the remaining duration of the exam.
- Start with the question you are most confident about:After encountering a mental block, it is important to gain back your confidence for the rest of the exam. Whether you go blank in the middle of the exam or right at the start, the solution remains the same. You should flip through the question paper and identify the questions you are most confident about. Since time is off the essence now, finish the questions you are familiar with and secure as many marks as possible. Then go for the questions you are unsure about. Don’t immediately go to the question you were on when you hit the mental block. It is best to leave that question for the end.
- Familiarity is the key:During a mental block, you are not able to recall the matter you had learnt. No matter how hard you try, it is very difficult to visualize the answer you may have gone through just a day ago. As a preventive measure, you can flip through your entire course content on the morning before the exam. The idea is not to do a revision of the entire syllabus but just to take mental screenshots. You can prepare summaries before hand which can help you to speed up this process. Refreshing your visual memory a few hours before the exam can greatly enhance your visual recall while writing the exams.
- Have a plan in place:The most important takeaway is to acknowledge that no matter how well prepared you are, there is a possibility that you may blank out during the exam and if you take the right steps, you can be back on track within 10-15 mins. Do not be taken by surprise in case you face a mental block as it is normal for students to go through it. You don’t need to panic as you have a plan ready to deal with the situation. It is advisable to revisit your plan before your exam day so that you can take quick action during the exam.
Believe you know it well! Now it’s time to put your best thoughts on paper most efficiently & convince the examiner that YOU ARE THE ONE.