Why am I NEVER tense before the exams?
Exam anxiety ~ 5 proven remedies for blackouts in exams
Blackout in the exam? - You can do that against exam anxiety!
You learned so much. But suddenly everything is gone. You're sitting in the exam and can't remember anything at all. Your blackout is preventing you from successfully taking the exam. It doesn't have to be! I explain how a blackout occurs and what you can do in the exam to remind yourself of everything.
Do not worry - what you have learned is not gone!
If we don't remember anything in the exam, we often have the following thoughts: “I've forgotten everything. My knowledge is gone! ". But I can reassure you: what I learned was not deleted from the hard drive. The stress in the exam only blocks access to your knowledge. The storage disk is still full, the files just cannot be opened at the moment. Everything is safely stowed away and with a few tricks you can regain access to your knowledge.
Why do I have a blackout?
Test anxiety is a self-fulfilling prophecy
Exam anxiety means stress, and stress has been shown to cause blackouts. Basically, however, stress is very useful for learning! In demanding situations such as exams, the hormones adrenaline and cortisol are increasingly released. These hormones put you on the alert. They increase blood flow to the brain, especially the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain that is responsible for enabling you to recall what you have learned from your memory. The right amount of these stress hormones leads to increased performance and helps you pass a good exam.
Blackouts as a protective mechanism of the brain
If the stress level is very high or if the stress is perceived as particularly acute and uncontrollable, it can happen that nerve cells in the hippocampus die. Of course your brain wants to prevent that and rebels. Your hippocampus is now in a state of shock and does nothing for the time being. Since this is no longer working, you cannot remember anything. The blackout is a self-protection mechanism of the hippocampus that kicks in when you experience too much stress.
First aid during an exam blackout
Assuming you now have a blackout and just can't remember anything: don't worry! Admit the blackout and don't drive yourself crazy. With these two hacks you can regain access to your knowledge during the exam:
Panic about oral exams
Examination anxiety is a widespread phenomenon, especially when it comes to oral exams. Fortunately, graduate psychologist Miriam has helpful tips here, not only as a psychologist, but also as a lecturer. She herself teaches at the University of Greifswald and has not only passed many exams herself, but also rated them.
Hack number 1: wiggle your toes!
When you blackout, your thoughts are probably just about not being able to remember anything. You are concerned about the outcome of the exam. Take a moment and do something completely different than thinking about it: wiggle both big toes at the same time! Why does that help? The toe wiggle releases your cramps. Many muscles are likely to be tense from the stress of the exam. In order to be able to wiggle your toes, you need to let some slack. Relaxing your muscles also calms your mind. In addition, your brain has to concentrate on the wobbling and forgets about the horror scenarios you went through before. Your head is clear again and you are more relaxed. If that doesn't help, you can try hack number 2 afterwards.
Hack number 2: the restart method
Your brain works like a computer. A restart often solves all problems! For oral exams, I recommend you tell your examiner about the blackout. Take some time for yourself. Sit back and use a relaxation technique. For example, it helps to inhale and exhale deeply and slowly. Think about something other than the exam situation. In this way you gain some distance from the blackout and can start again. Two minutes are ideal for a complete restart. So it hardly costs you any time. In addition, your brain runs much smoother after the restart and you can use the rest of the time much more effectively.
As I said, these two hacks are your first aid measure in the exam situation itself. However, they do not address the source of the problem, namely exam anxiety itself. So that you don't get into this situation in the first place, there are exercises that prevent exam anxiety and thus generally reduce the risk of a blackout.
Preventive exercises against exam anxiety
So that you don't feel so much stress in exams that your brain shuts down out of panic, there are various exercises that you should do BEFORE the exam. Because mostly it is due to the great tension and fear of failure. But you will get rid of them too! Daniel and Mirjam explain how to do this in the second part of the Best study hacks in the world. In the free e-book "Exam Anxiety Emergency Hacks - First Aid For Your Panic Chicken" they have compiled a lot of useful hacks. These will help you to better deal with your worries and the stress of the university. The next exam can no longer harm you!
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