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What to do when you become blank in an examination hall?

Sometimes stress in the examination hall would impair your preparation, impacts your strategy and affects your performance. Your mind may go totally blank which may lead to utter confusion and chaos and few simple techniques are discussed here to overcome this situation and help the student to do better in the examination.


It so happens that a student may get confused after going through the question paper in the examination hall and goes blank. It might have happened to you too in your college or school days and quite a common phenomenon for all students due to the stress or strain they have undergone before night while preparing for the examination. Parents and teachers should train them well to overcome it and few tips and techniques would help them out in such a scenario.

Some stress would always be there at a normal quantum while taking an examination and its impact would be very minimal. It is always ideal to stop your preparations well in advance , that is, few hours before the examination and proper rest needs to be taken. Unfortunately many of the students have the habit of going through the last minute revision or a glance look which sometimes may create a panic atmosphere while going through the Question paper in the examination hall and chances of becoming over-stressed when it does not reflect our expected mode of questionnaire.

Once it happened to me, it was the B Sc Final Examination and we were attempting the Physics paper. I didn't sleep and was discussing with my friend last night about the difficult topics and expected questions. When I had gone through the question paper, the questions were framed very lightly which was unexpected and our focus was on difficult questionnaire. I was utterly confused as the very first one I attempted slipped out of my mind and it drew me blank. My hands started shivering and my thoughts started running away from the fear of a possible failure as the minimum qualifying mark would make me certain to place me in First Class or the result would be otherwise.

I kept cool for some time, just started going through the Clark's table which was permitted inside to find the Logarithmic values. The various formulae in Physics were also available in it and went through them in a helpless situation.

What to do?

To control the stress, some prefer to take chocolates or chewing gum. This may work out to have a re-energizing effect and help you to think clearer. Parents and teachers should teach the student how to concentrate and focus and keep their stress levels low in the examination hall. It would be ideal to make some experiments initially so that the technique which suits them can be applied at the time of examination.

Cramming and staying up all night would cause more stress in the examination hall and leads to going blank. Also, pressuring oneself into think more about the possible chances of success are more detrimental than helpful. It makes extremely nervous and in such situations better to write down some useful formulae on the right side of the answer sheet at the space provided for rough work. Sometimes it calms you down just to to pacify that you can think something in your head, though it is not going to use it on the test. Before you open the test booklet or the question paper, keep silence for 30-60 seconds to just chill and clear your mind and get in a positive place. It'll help you avoid that the feeling that you may not do the exam properly and makes you prepared to look right at the examination.

Meditation for few minutes sometimes may help

You should not get distracted and keep your attention focused on the exam only. Some meditation techniques needed to apply. Stay cool and get relieved from the stress that resulted after going through the question paper. Begin breathing very deeply and flow with it for a few minutes breathing in and out as deeply as possible. This helps in getting some oxygen into the body and one can think clearer as the stress slowly goes off. While doing so, don't think about anything and simply close your eyes. Get back to your normal business, once you feel to be more relaxed.

Just attempt the best one you know well first

The Clarke's table book might have helped me in the above situation but may not work out in every case as the examination may vary subject wise. But the underlying message that staying cool in such times and refreshing our mind by recollecting the relevant preliminary basics of the subject would surely makes a difference and you can gear up with a double speed in the remaining time available.

Try to attempt a certain question with the topic which you are familiar with when your mind goes blank, start writing something about it, irrespective of the fact that the answer may not be relevant at all. This would help in recollecting the details you read slowly and jogs your memory and get you thinking about the topic again. Hopefully this should work, if not, skip the question and come back to it later. Make some other attempt on another question on the same lines and sure your memory blockage would go off and makes you to swing into action as the time available is more precious.

Wrap Up

Generally such situations of mind going blank would happen when the student keeps working non-stop or spend an extreme amount of time on revision till the last minute. Just take time to think carefully about your answers during the examination with a cool composure. Evaluate your performance afterwards and not at the time of going through the Examination paper. This is a very important point to be borne in mind as many of the students try to asses their performance based on the questions on hand in the examination hall itself. The above tips would surely help you survive from your blanking out moment and would make you more comfortable.

Article by Jagdish Patro
Jagdish Patro is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to ISC and other websites. Fond of reading books, novels and spends his leisure time by listening to music. He did his B.Sc in Applied Chemistry and his M.Sc in Resource Development Technology. He edited and published an in-house monthly journal by name ‘Srujana’ during 2009-2011 which was totally a private circulation.

Follow Jagdish Patro or read 101 articles authored by Jagdish Patro

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Author: Neethu11 Sep 2017 Member Level: Gold   Points : 3

I could feel the panic when I went through your article. It's so true that when we go blank during the exam, we get shivers, sweating, racing of heart beat and in some cases due to blood drain we can even faint.

Wonderfully explained by the author what to do in such scenarios when you become blank.

I would like to share one tip along with this article which my teacher shared with me during my school days and she was very experienced in checking Board Exam papers. If you feel totally blanked out, first as the author said calm yourself take some deep breaths and always remember that exam is not the end of the world. If you feel that you are unable to answer of the question, you need not worry write an answer that you know thoroughly even if that question is not there in the exam paper. Teachers do consider such answers if you are unable to answer any of the questions in the question paper. They do give grace marks. So don't panic, cheer up. Follow this tip only if you don't know answers to any of the questions.

Guest Author: gnrao12 Sep 2017

Nicely and vividly written. The school and class teachers must utilise this and make the students to develop their confidence levels and in the positive manner.

Author: DR.N.V. Srinivasa Rao16 Sep 2017 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 4

A very good guide for the students who are going to face the exams. Really the author has brought in more clarity to the subject with his own experience. Generally we see many students reading books even 5 minutes before they enter in to the exam hall. But that is not a good practice. This make us to lose our calm and we will become more anxious. So as advised by the author one should keep cool and have a fresh mind. Another important point to be noted is if you are becoming blank. Just close your eyes for a minute or two and just have some good thoughts. Then you will become normal and can get started.
The article is worth reading by all students so that they will get a good understanding aboue how to overcome the stated problem

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