- Why do we Go Blank During the FMGE? is one of the most important questions which pops up from 1 out of 3 FMGE aspirants. We are providing insight into this challenge & a solution to cope up.
Insight into Why do we Go Blank During the FMGE?
- Blank is a phenomenon that you feel you forget the fact needed to be answered at the exam although you might recall it as you walk out of the exam.
- Reasons Why do we Go Blank During the FMGE?: there are a number of reasons such as anxiety, stress, and fatigue.
- Psychological basis:
- It’s an immature defense mechanism called blocking which is a temporary or transient block in thinking, or an inability to remember in order to cope up with the anxiety of choosing a wrong answer in the exam which can be explained by Yerkes–Dodson law.
Emotional Hijack: Read in the section below.
- Neurological basis:
- The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is responsible for working memory (hold and manipulate information in your mind), decision making & impulse control.
- The hippocampus plays an incredibly important role in both the learning and retrieval of facts and concepts.
- Unpredictable and high-stakes exam situation → non-logical and emotionally driven thinking processes (hot cognition) → hypothalamus stimulates the generation of stress hormones→ ↑ norepinephrine to dampen neuronal firing of the PFC to clear out your working memory (whatever you were thinking about is now gone) + ↑ cortisol disrupt activation of the hippocampal neurons to impede the ability to access old memories.
- Limbic take over: When the neocortex shuts down the phylogenetically older part of the brain “Limbic system” takes over the control whose primary function is “Emotion” therefore the subject becomes overemotional while the cognition being suppressed which is called as “Emotional Hijack”.
How to cope up with Going Blank During the FMGE?
- Understand that there is a number of causes for mind blanks such as, anxiety, stress, and fatigue & try to understand what causes your mind blanks so that you can be better equipped. De-stressing & relaxation are the keys to overcome the block.
- Prior to the FMGE during the FMGE preparation::
- Manage your stress.
- Familiarize with all aspects of the FMGE/MCI exam/MCI screening test: Practice as many past exam papers & mocks as possible to minimize the nasty surprises (Less nasty surprises = less stress)
- Visualize the Exam Process: Imagine yourself at the exam (imagIne all that happens during the exam) for 1 min each day for at least a week before your exam (Anticipation & mental rehearsal decrease the stress & increase the confidence).
- Groom your learning skills based on your learning style to aid in your recall during your FMGE preparation
- Focus on the concepts: do not memorize an answer & Focus on the concepts during your FMGE preparation.
- Recite the key concepts out loud: this may help with recall instead of solely relying on writing/typing notes during your FMGE preparation.
- During the FMGE:
- To overcome mind blanks at the exam: Pause, take a deep breath and look up→ try to gather your thoughts. instead of looking down at your exam paper.
- Get out of the perfectionist trap: Focus on what you know, forget about the things I hadn’t had a chance to study, and simply focus on the things you knew.
- Foster the techniques to recall: Focus on the techniques of recall as per your learning style while preparing for the FMGE & implement them to recall the facts needed for the MCQ (Closing your eyes & try to remember the color-coding in your notes/materials or recite silently or adjust your posture/ or kinetics)
- Attempt MCQs in clusters: Working in short bursts of time can help to improve your attention on a set task therefore after a set of 10 FMGE MCQs → Stretch out, take a deep breath & relax before starting the next set (Never attempt to Solve all questions in one go).
- When you go blank on a specific FMGE MCQs: Do not linger longer, Mark the question & move on as you can come back to marked FMGE MCQS to reconsider them later (Your brain brings the answer from an unconscious part of memory later on because the brain always works in parallel tracks).
- Each question/FMGE MCQ is unique & a separate entity: Do not allow a tough question to contaminate your skill/positive attitude as you move through to answering the next more manageable ones & Adjust/adapt rapidly as you move from item to item.
- Why your mind goes blank during public speaking, tests or exams by Dave Smith: