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I Studied, So Why Does My Mind Go Blank When I Take a Test?

by | Nov 28, 2018 | Children, Education, Family, Learning Disabilities, Parenting, Reading, School, Students, Study Skills, Teachers, Tutoring | 0 comments

I Studied, So Why Does My Mind Go Blank When I Take a Test?

student taking a test mind blank

Do you spend a lot of time and energy preparing for a test only to feel like your mind goes blank once you start the assessment? This is a common experience. It happens because of the way our brain takes in, stores, and then recovers learned information. There are three phases to learning and remembering something new: acquisition, consolidation, and retrieval. Acquisition happens when you encounter a new piece of information. Consolidation is when experiences, especially those linked to strong emotions, are encoded and stored. Retrieval is when the information is pulled from “storage” and you remember it later.

When we experience short-term stress as a result of test anxiety, our brain activates a fight or flight response. This affects memory by inhibiting the prefrontal cortex, which is the area of our brain responsible for retrieval. As a result, we can not remember, during that moment, what we learned previously. Some stress, for example timing yourself while taking a practice test, may actually help with memory. However, when this stress becomes excessive or is more than we encountered while practicing, it is counterproductive to memory.

So how can we avoid the experience of blanking out on our next test? We have to keep our anxiety and stress level under control. There are several strategies that help us do this:

Exercise to Lessen Anxiety and  Improve Sleep Patterns

Exercise can produce chemical changes in your brain that are linked to reduced anxiety.  Increasing your well-being and decreasing your anxiety level can lead to better memory. Exercise also helps to create more regular sleep patterns, which can assist with greater levels of memory.

Try to make the conditions when you study similar to those in which you will be testing.

Make Practice Conditions Like Test Conditions

Having a new experience or an unpleasant surprise can be a stressor. Try to make your test-preparation as similar to your testing experience as possible. You can do this by finding out what your test will look like and then creating and taking a practice test. You can also prepare in an environment that is similar to your testing environment. So, if you will test at a desk with bright lighting, prepare at a desk with bright lighting. In addition, try to make the conditions when you study similar to those in which you will be testing. If your test is timed, time your practice until you are comfortable completing the number of required items in the given time period. Consider making your practice even a bit more stressful or difficult than you think the test will be. This could create relief as opposed to anxiety at seeing the actual exam on test day.

Learn Yoga, Meditation, and Breathing Techniques to Counteract the Stress Response

On test day, when you begin to feel anxious it can help to know deep breathing, stretching or centering techniques that can be used to regain focus and balance. Stress can have a long-term impact on your body. Changing how you respond to stress will not only help you remember more but also will help you stay healthier in the long-run.

-Nina Parrish, M.Ed.
Owner | Parrish Learning Zone, LLC

 

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                                       ~Nina

Nina Parrish, M. Ed.

Nina Parrish, M. Ed.

Co-Owner and Director of Education

Proud mom of two adorable girls. Teacher who has developed an education business that started at a kitchen table and has grown into a thriving small business... Click here to Learn more about Nina.

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Pam Cantrell Burton
Pam Cantrell Burton
2020-10-14T16:15:51+0000
Parrish Learning Zone helped my daughter with on-line SAT and college essay preparation. She not only scored in the top 90 percentile on the SAT after working with Lauren Cannavo, she especially benefited from the tutoring she received for her admission essays. My daughter was accepted at Notre Dame, UVA, William and Mary, and received scholarships to George Washington University and the University of Alabama. She was initially deferred at the University of Chicago and waitlisted at University of Michigan and Emory University. She eventually chose not to remain on the waitlists and committed to UVA.Lauren also advised our daughter regarding her submission of a 20 page essay on community service for DECA, a high school business club. Our daughter, along with her partner, won second place in her category at the DECA state competitions in 2019 and 2020, and received second place at the DECA international competition in 2019.Lauren was not only a top-notch professional, she really cared about our daughter and was so pleased about her accomplishments. We are so very grateful to her and Parrish Learning Zone.
Marijayne Kruus
Marijayne Kruus
2020-05-11T21:51:37+0000
My daughter has a math learning disability and hated math. We started working with Nina Parrish and stuck with it for several months. Her grades have improved, but more importantly, so has her self confidence. She now loves going to work on math and will even work on it at home by herself. We are grateful for Parrish Learning Zone!
Laura Ellis
Laura Ellis
2018-12-14T14:36:43+0000
Mr. Chaves is an extremely gifted chemistry teacher. It's such a difficult subject--my son was drowning by the time we found PLZ. This was truly a last ditch effort on our part. Mr. Chaves was able to turn that ship around after only 4 lessons and my son passed the SOL! He was able to distill difficult concepts in a way that made them comprehensible and he was patient and kind and gave my son the confidence to succeed. His actual eacher expressed surprise and made a point of telling him he didn't know how he did it but he was impressed. It takes a gifted teacher to get results like that.I only wish we'd found PLZ and Mr. Chaves in the beginning of the school year.
Wendy Zelazny
Wendy Zelazny
2018-06-08T02:05:15+0000
Highly Recommend
Anne Kater Reeves
Anne Kater Reeves
2018-06-07T22:46:05+0000
I highly recommend Parrish Learning Zone. My daughter was able to achieve the SAT score she was aiming for with the help of her Math (Mr. James Slane) and English (Mrs. Lauren Cannavo) tutors. Not only did they help her with practice tests but they also boosted her confidence in taking the SAT. The owners (Nina and Jay) were always prompt in answering my emails. They are very accommodating and worked around my daughter’s schedule (thank you Shiela for all your help in finding available dates for my daughter to meet with her tutors). Thank you Parrish Learning Zone for helping my daughter achieve her goal!
Beth Yankovich
Beth Yankovich
2018-03-23T20:29:18+0000
I can't say enough good things about Parrish Learning Zone. My son has historically suffered from low reading comprehension. I felt he needed a little extra help so I contacted Parrish Learning Zone. The owners at Parrish matched my son with the perfect tutor for him, they developed a rapport almost immediately. He is now in 8th grade and doing well in all his classes. My son is very active in school sports and the staff at Parrish are always very accommodating. They always reschedule with no problems. My son even likes to go early to chat with Sheila.
Beth Kent
Beth Kent
2017-11-08T18:59:11+0000
Awesome! Very structured and student focused - they identified the areas of weakness and turned those into areas of strength in a very short amount of time. I loved the communication from the tutor and the company. I received a specific report of my child's tutoring session including improvements and areas that needed continued work. I received reminders of upcoming tutor sessions - which I needed!! I felt the individual attention and service was worth every penny AND found the prices to be much more reasonable that other tutors in the area. I would HIGHLY recommend Parrish Learning Zone to any parent that needs to find highly competent tutoring help for their child. Parrish is simply the best!
Michele Hiltbrunner Freemyers
Michele Hiltbrunner Freemyers
2017-03-14T15:53:50+0000
An excellent place to take your kids for any tutoring needs! PLZ is a very personalized and hands on service! Both of my teenage boys have been through here for various reasons and I know we will continue to make use of them!
Tammy Elms Mosco
Tammy Elms Mosco
2016-06-02T12:20:59+0000
SAT Prep Course with Parish Learning is definitely a worthwhile invest !!...My son's scores improved over 200 plus points!!
Janice Boles
Janice Boles
2014-12-02T22:34:32+0000
I am extremely thankful to Parrish Learning Zone. I have a son that is a freshman in college majoring in mechanical engineering. I am so glad that we found out about the Parrish Learning Zone because they were very caring and really worked hard around my sons high school football schedule to ensure that he received all of the needed instruction in order to do well on the SAT testing. It was a great investment for his future. I believe this experience prepared my son for the transition to college life. He was able to attend a top engineering college and to play football there. My daughter is a senior in high school now and was admitted into two of the top ranked public schools in Virginia. She will be a freshman at one of these schools next year. She also was enrolled in the Parrish Learning Zone for preparation for the SAT. I am again thankful to the Parrish Learning Zone and feel that this was a great long term investment into their futures. I would strongly recommend the Parrish Learning Zone to anyone looking for an environment that offers a caring and knowledgeable approach to educating students. They are the best.
Angela Jackson
Angela Jackson
2014-05-15T00:39:39+0000
Andrew Powers
Andrew Powers
2014-02-09T12:32:29+0000

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