Thursday, December 8, 2011

How our brain works during studies & exams – Part 2 (about Examination)

[Disclaimer : Sorry for uploading the write-up bit late then committed time.]

In the last write-up, I tried to explain 'How our mind stores data (information which we read)' And I am glad I got some response. I request all the followers who read this blog, if you have any question or a word of appreciation then kindly leave a comment below, this will help me improving myself and my writing.

If you haven't follow the PART 1 (click here) of this series then kindly go through it, because this write-up is based on the previous one. In the last write-up i.e. Part 1 of the series, we had seen how to study. I would like to add some highlights or recall few skill which we had seen. 
1. Do study for short hours may be 1 or 2 and then take break.
2. During break, one should not do things which involve brain in it, like one should avoid watching TV serials, movies, etc etc

By following this 2 simple points, we can keep our brain away from fatigue/tiredness during preparatory stage. Now let see about EXAM hours. Its an irony. Though we studies for short hours (1 or 2) during our preparatory stage but during EXAM we have to write/solve paper for 3 hours non-stop, that too under pressure of performance. 
We selected to study for short hours to avoid tiredness of brain but during exam we have giving our 200% for 3 hours. So one may ask why not our brain gets fatigue/tired during examination? Yes, it does and thats the reason most of use feel sleepy after Maths paper or any exam. And also we used to sleep after the paper for 1 or 2 hours. Specially in GATE, where you have to perform and due to negative marking, one need to keep himself alert all the time and if he looses his alertness, in the end of the exam hours, he may end up marking guess answers and may get them wrong i.e. negative marks. 

So as per my theory, 'How to solve exam paper' is bit different story. I have seen people (who cleared exam already) advice us to go through the whole paper and solve what you know. Then after going through the paper, restart it again and solve those problem which you face difficult earlier and some stuff like this. I am not saying this approach is wrong, but one should know how things work during exam. 

As I stated earlier post, everything we can remember is in the SUB-CONSCIOUS mind and it is bit slow is storing than CONSCIOUS mind which gets data/information too fast. If this is the case while storing and the case will remain same during exam hours as well. Sub-conscious mind will work slowly and recall data slowly. So to match up the speed, we were told by our parents or mentor, in schooling days, to go through the paper once, read all question once and then start solving paper. Because of reading question, our conscious brain get data in the form of question and start recall answers from sub-conscious brain. And when I give him ample of time to process the slow data coming from sub-conscious, I will not commit mistake. It is just the synchronizing between the slow 'sub-conscious' and fast 'conscious' brain. All you need is to give ample amount of time to them, so that data/information/answers can be recalled.
But in competitive exams, like GATE, IIT-JEE, AIEEE, MHT-CET, AIPMT, etc , time is the key. They have given less time to solve the paper with huge syllabus all together. Like in GATE, we have almost 9 subjects in detail and have to solve the paper in just 3 hours. It means I need to recall all 9 subjects in just 3 hours. If my brain had a microprocessor chip, it must have burnt off.

How to solve the competitive exam paper accurately without getting our brain tired?
See logic is simple, take breaks during exam as well. Dont worry about time factor, this is just to trick you. If your brain works stable, it will recall and do calculation with above average speed. Remember, we used to study during the early hours of days (morning 4am or 5 am) and cover most the topics in just 2 hours or so, which could have take more than 4 hours if I had studies them during day time. This is because, in morning our mind is stable (ofcourse due to whole night sleep). Same way in exam hours, if you give your mind rest, then it will work absolutely fine. (there are things which we can't describe, we can just observe or feel them) You can this method during your practice session and if you feel its good, use it otherwise your wish.
=> While starting exam paper, you should not panic and lose confidence by just looking at the examiner or paper bundle in his/her hand. (And this things happens because we were in lot of pressure just before exam starts, and must avoid this kind of panic attacks). Once your start is good, you already won the first step. 
=> Normally all of us, take out our pen/pencil, ruler scale, eraser, etc just before the examiner enters. My advice is once you get question / answer paper in your hand, take our the stuff you want, instead of all. This is steal few second for slow process of sub-conscious / or getting adjust to the pressure. Remember, under pressure, nothing in the Universe works well.
=> As soon as you get your paper, pray a little for 10-15 seconds, don't open your question paper as soon as you touch it. This will keep you relax and away from pressure. 
=> Once you ready to start solve, you have wasted 1 minute in taking out stuff from compass box and praying and more over you tired to keep yourself relax and away pressure. Just one minute and benefits are immense, then why not use them
=> Now, as your are ready to solve. Take a bit different approach, same approach which we use to take in school (especially in GATE or all national level examination). Go through the paper and try to categories the question in different categories. There will be some theoretical question whose answer you might know readily, just mark them up. 
During my GATE paper, I, personally, over look all the question and categories them in the 9 subjects which we have in syllabus.
=> After categorizing the question, start solving with the subject you are confident of and move towards the harder one.
=> (This step of advice is amazing and I personally to do this). Try to solve the whole paper twice during 3 hours instead of just once. And believe me (or try once with yourself) it is possible. and had many psychological benefits. Remember, the dialogue from '3 IDIOTS' which is something like this "... Uss din ek baat samaj mein aayi... Ye jo dil hai na bada darpok hai, Isko bevakuf banake rakho, Life main kitni bhi badi problem ho isko bolo, “Aal Izz Well…” , Isse problem solve ho na ho, Lekin usko jhelne ki himmat aa jati hai" same way when you convince yourself to solve the same paper twice in 3 hours it will have magic. Actually you are not going to solve twice practically but you going try to make yourself fool. And it works for me and my all students and friends, my brother and sister as well. 
=> All you need to do is, after categorizing the subject, start solving starting with easiest one of your choice (this will try to boost your confidence level and remove panic attacks during exam hours). And you are not sure of the answer, just mark the question. There going to be only two possibilities, either you know the answer or not. So once you don't have answer (means you are not sure of the answer) just mark the question and move further. Remember, till now I haven't made any bubbles on my answer sheet i.e. OMR sheet. And complete the paper once. 
=> During second attempt, just confirm all the answer you got in first attempt and do bubbling and after completing that solve the not attempted ones. And the procedure stated till now must take 2 hours or few minutes more. 
And now you have ample of time to recall the difficult ones. And now lets talk about breaks. If you are comfortable, then try to mumming or even singing (in low voice, so that others may not get disturbed) your favorite track. (Because if it is your favorite, it involved your heart and not your brain while singing). Or you can even talk to yourself in heart without making any noise. This will keep your mind diverting from the question and get time to recall concepts or formula.

One can even adopt the above method in their work ofcourse with modifications, since during working hours, we face the same thing which we faced during exam hours, same pressure, same panic attacks, same excitment. 

Here I complete the 2 series write-up of 'How brain works 1) during studies, & 2) during exam hours'. The idea of this write-up is came from Zahid Sir's blog Inspire N Ignite


  1. It is indeed a good write up. but Please clarify one thing.Sometimes we have seen that when we try to attempt relatively simple question first but after two three tries if we do not get the answer and if it happens with 2/3 problems then our confidence suddenly goes down. For example Digital electronics and Network are two relatively easy subjects in GATE We all try to get full marks in them. But in the exam it may so happen that the questions from these two subjects are not so easy then we suddenly loose our confidence. How to tackle that kind of situation.

  2. @Indraneel,
    You became a victim of TRICK QUESTIONS. ;) See if you get in one attempt, its GOOD. If you don't in first but understood your mistake then go for second and get the answer. If you still wrong, then leave the question for later. Its my personal understanding that "Easier is the subject, more trickier will be the problem". Coz many times we underestimate the potential of easy of subjects.

  3. Thanks Ankit for the quick reply

  4. That was a really wonderful Article ankit Sir, a really worth reading and implementing, Thankyou So Much.:)

  5. @Lorin Ahmed
    After looking at your comment, pleasure is all mine

  6. Thank u so much ankit..:):)wonderful artical...:):)

  7. Very nice article giving a different direction of solving GATE paper.
    Thank you Ankit.

  8. thanx,,,,, Ankit, for such a grt article,,,,, it give a boost energy in me.... thanx 1nc again.....


Thank You for the comment, checkout the reply on your comment after 24 hours and kindly follow the blog for further updates by entering your email id in the box on upper right side of the blog HomePage