Jun 13, 2024 3 min read

Exam-Taking Techniques #6 - Take Small "Zen" Breaks

Exam-Taking Techniques #6 - Take Small "Zen" Breaks
Photo by Lucas Calloch / Unsplash

Zen? That's correct. Meditation and self-control.

Now we'll really dig into techniques you can use during the exam. Let's go.

Exams can be brutal. You have to answer many questions (typically anywhere from 50 to 90) while staring at a screen for an hour or more. This can be quite draining on your eyes and brain—not to mention other body parts. We must keep our minds and bodies strong and in control when they begin to tire. Enter in - the "Zen" break.

In short, I recommend small breaks and breathing techniques. For example, after going through every 15 to 20 questions, close your eyes and slowly take a few deep breaths, holding each one for five seconds and then releasing each one slowly. Think about nothing while doing so. Remove the test from your mind during these breaks.

If you have trouble thinking of nothing, then imagine a serene and peaceful image—such as a calm scene from nature, or the constellations on a warm spring evening. Whatever you like! As long as it is calm - and not the exam.

This technique takes only about half a minute but can help your brain to refocus. Essentially it's meditation. It’s almost a Zen type of thing. When applied properly, I have managed a couple of perfect scores. It’s amazing how the mindset can make or break you.

Let me tell you a story...
I'm not trying to pat myself on the back. Before researching, developing, and using my test-taking techniques, I have failed. In fact; I failed my very first certification exam! (Microsoft Networking Essentials - 1995.)
So, I know the pain! I'll never forget it and vowed that it would not happen again. As they say, you remember your failures far more than your successes. Long story short; what I ultimately found is that attitude and techniques are just as important as knowing the content.

You can take these breaks whenever you see fit. For example, you might encounter a string of difficult questions, one really tough question, or a performance-based question that throws you for a loop. Employ the technique (as long as you have time left!) These breathing techniques can help to maintain positivity by "re-setting" the brain.

You might worry that your mind will wander during one of these breaks. It can happen. That's where the breathing comes in. Count your breaths and count the seconds for each breath. Then you'll know exactly how long your Zen break lasted.

Remember to go for self-control. Don't let any single question beat you. By that, don't get upset, and keep a positive outlook.

While we're talking about the physical, remember to keep good posture. You know, back straight, eyes level with the screen, wrists raised off the keyboard and mouse slightly, and not leaning on the table. Good posture can help to stave off body fatigue.
Consider finger stretches before and during the exam or any other little physical tweaks you can do to keep yourself in the game. Remember that what works for you might be different than for others.

This article has been all about keeping the body and mind in sync - and not letting the mind get overloaded. Consider adding these techniques to help increase your final exam score!

Remember! Meditative breathing techniques can reset the mind and allow you to continue your exam confidently. Try it!

Photo by Lucas Calloch / Unsplash

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