Ever had your mind blank out during an important event, such as a job interview, when on stage, or, say, at the CFA exam?
Your mind blanks out because of your nervous energy, which triggers the body's 'fight or flight' response. Blood rushes to the large muscles — your arms and legs — so you can take action. And blood leaves the parts of the brain that aren’t helpful in a fight or a race — parts of the brain that govern memory and verbal skills. Which ironically is what you need in these situations. Keep up, evolution!
It's a vicious circle: Fear and anxiety makes you forget stuff. Which makes you more afraid and anxious. Which makes you less able to remember what you studied earlier. Which makes you stop writing. Which makes you aware that you may be running out of time. Which makes you panic even further. And so on.
So learning to calm down, especially during CFA exam day, can be an incredibly important tip to keep in mind. Calming down breaks the cycle and makes you reset your mind, enabling you to think rationally again.
So how do we apply calming techniques in the CFA exam setting?