You have studied for the exam. You feel you know a lot of information, but for some reason as soon as you start the exam, your mind goes blank. This is not uncommon, but figuring out how to fix this quickly during the exam can be the biggest challenge.
Good news, I will go over the 3 things you can do to relax during a major exam and help you perform your best.
When my daughter was 18 months old I began teaching her the alphabets and how to recognize each one. She could go through all of the alphabets from A-Z reciting them and correctly pointing to the appropriate letter. However, there was one letter that gave her major problems and that was the Letter C. We went over the letter C almost a hundred times until I could see she was frustrated and decided to end the alphabet lesson for that day. About 2a in the morning I heard my daughter mumbling something in her sleep. I didn’t know if she was having a dream or if she was awake. As I leaned in to listen a little closer to what she was saying, I could her tiny voice whispering, “That is a C daddy, that is the letter C”. The next morning she was able to go through all of the alphabets, and yes the letter “C” was no longer a problem for her.
This brief story illustrates something that will be extremely helpful as you relax during your exam.
THE BRAIN (VOLUNTARY)
The brain is your conscious center and it is the tool that helps you see reality, the good and the bad of an exam. The brain is what you are using when you highlight sentences in your study material. It helps you to create your note cards so you won’t forget high yield information. It is the same conscious center that hears friends and colleagues talk about how hard a test might be and what will happen if you don’t do well on the exam. The brain is part of your voluntary nervous system. It reacts and takes cues from the external environment. If you see others stressing out during the exam, the brain can see and process that information. While you are taking the exam and you identify items you may not know, the brain begins to reflect on why you don’t know this information and it begins to try and force itself into remembering the information. But the more the brain forces the information, the more information that seems to be lost. The question you might be wondering is why is more information lost when I force myself to remember?
THE AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM (INVOLUNTARY)
The reason for this may not be immediately obvious, but it will make sense in just a second. There is another part of your nervous system, called the involuntary nervous system. It is better known as the autonomic nervous system. This can be described as your subconscious and functions to work as the brains major engineer. Whatever the brain (conscious) is focused on the subconscious processes it, stores it, and prepares it for use when called upon. This wonderful part of your nervous system works all day every day and does it’s best work when you don’t get in it’s way. So how do you get out of the way and let the subconscious take over?
Where and when is the subconscious active?
Going back to my daughter and her problem with the letter “C”. Her conscious mind could see the letter C, but was having problems processing it. Despite being frustrated and forcing herself to try and remember it, she was not having any success. Her brain was focused on the C, but could not resolve this issue of how to remember the letter C. It was not until she was in a deep sleep and her conscious mind was resting that her subconscious mind was able to teach her and reveal to her how to remember the letter C. I know this may sound a little odd, but it is very true. The subconscious is a great assistant, but does not like to be forced into do anything. The more you try and force it, the more it says “let me know when you are done forcing, so I can help you out”. So now if you understand that the subconscious has all the information stored that you have previously studied, then how do you relax during the exam and get it?
In the 1970’s there was a song with the lyrics “if it don’t fit, don’t force it, just relax and let it go”. These words are exactly what the subconscious mind is saying to you during the exam. When you relax during the exam, the autonomic nervous system kicks in and allows the subconscious the opportunity to do its job.
How to relax for the exam
- Breathe before entering the exam and get into an almost dream like state. It should feel like you are there, but not really there. This means you will need to get to the testing center in enough time to allow for at least a 10-15 minute meditation time to get you into the state where your subconscious can work. Learning how to meditate prior to the exam can be helpful and feel free to contact the MDI Prep office on possible resources or a consultation on how to meditate. firstname.lastname@example.org
- Go to questions in the exam that are super easy. This technique will allow you to relax and feel more comfortable. As your confidence builds and your effort begins to be more relaxed the subconscious gets excited and starts retrieving information that you never thought you would remember.
- Affirmation, affirmation, and more affirmation during the exam. No one said you couldn’t whisper to yourself during the exam. Say to yourself during the exam, “I got this”, “This is exam is easier than I thought”, “I am so glad that all the information on this exam is in my subconscious and my subconscious is here with me right now”. “I am so happy that I have a chance to take this exam”. These powerful words of affirmation should be repeated as much as need be, before and during the exam.
I can guarantee you, that if you apply these three simple techniques you will do so much better on exams and you will definitely understand how it can relieve the test anxiety (a) that others may feel during their exam, but not you because you have the tools for success and the (a) word is no longer a part of your vocabulary. One book that should be added to your reading list is the Power of the Subconscious mind by Joseph Murphy.