“Oh, I read it last night! What was it?”, “If I don’t get this right, my grades will suffer big time!”, Time’s running out, oh no, oh no, oh….” And you wake up!
If you have been getting such nightmares before exams, don’t panic. It is in fact, quite natural to experience such an anxiety when exams are on the way.
What actually happens?
A study by neuroscientist Hans Reul suggests that “learning could actually be improved by studying when feeling the pressure of a deadline”. Feeling stressed has often been taken in a non-acceptable and negative way. However, this isn’t true. Yes, stress and anxiety don’t always prove to be in the best interest of the person, unless it is in moderation. A phenomenon explained by “Yerkes Dodson Law”. This law explains the relationship between stress and performance function and follows an inverted U-shaped curve.
- According to this curve, when stress is at the lowest point (bottom left corner), performance is strikingly low as well, because of the obvious factors like less motivation to get the job done, boredom and experiencing less responsible and pressured to build capacity for the task.
- On the other hand, when the stress is at the highest end (bottom right corner), performance suffers due to extreme pressure and anxiety, which leaves a person being perplexed, unhappy and lose confidence. This situation can put a high cognitive load on the person and adversely impact his body too.
- However, the optimal state comes when stress is moderate (middle part of the curve; with the bump). When the person experiences stress in a moderate consideration, performance is believed to be of the highest level, that is, the person will be able to give his/her best shot in this state. Hence, this being the desired state.
Research indicates that the correlation suggested by Yerkes and Dodson exists [Broadhurst (1959), Duffy (1957), and Anderson (1988)], however a cause of this correlation has not yet successfully been established (Anderson, Revelle, & Lynch, 1989).
It is to be kept in mind that different tasks require different levels of arousal. A task requiring more concentration will need low-level of arousal, in order to increase the focus, while, a relatively easy task will require a high level of arousal, to summon an adequate amount of motivation.
Few hacks to boost memory–
So, as has been seen, cramming never really goes long. While it has always been suggested to understand the content before performing, sometimes you cannot keep everything in your mind, right? Now, to scoop yourself through this, we present you few hacks that can help you execute the matter better.
- Sleep well– It has been scientifically proven that, memory gets consolidated better when a proper REM sleep is taken, post-learning. Sleep binds the new memory and protects it from all the disruptions and interfering experiences. Even a nap can work.
- Chunk the content– Chunking is the most commonly used technique. This involves breaking down the content into manageable parts. For instance, chunking someone’s phone no.-
It wouldn’t be easy to remember ‘9785364210’
we can break it down – 978 536 4210
Chunking can also be used for lists, such a
- Loci Method– A mnemonic technique that allows you to access the memory through a mental journey. Loci technique involves, beginning a trail with one mental picture, and then, roping in further mental images such that they give birth to a larger scenario. This allows one to retrieve information by mentally retracing the locations, which act as cues to remember the required items in sequence.
- Pegword System– Another mnemonic technique, involves remembering the content as it rhymes with the numbers, in a chronological order, such as 1 is a pen, 2 is a shoe, 3 is a tree…
- Move that body a little– Exercising is not just for your body but your brain as well. When you move, there is more oxygen flow to your brain as it requires more blood to carry out different mental capacities. Now, when you learn while moving your body, everything starts syncing in well. Your mind becomes more active and the encoding power improves, as well.
The hacks mentioned above are not just suitable for people dealing with exam stress, but also for those who struggle remembering their shopping list, the content of their presentations in college, office or a lecture as well.
According to a study by Pradhan et al., (2014), it was found that excessive stress affects the cognitive functions of students and may negatively affect their performance in the examinations. It was further observed that female learners were more affected by stress which impaired their cardiovascular parameter like PR and cognitive parameters prior to the examination. Identification of students who are at risk of excessive stress will help the educator to deal effectively with such students at the earliest.