Does your child blank out during exams?

Have you heard your child said they’ve blanked out during an exam? Do they study really hard, go in feeling good but come out stressed and achieving less than they deserve?

Blanking out is an unnerving and upsetting experience for any student. There is a great deal of pressure to perform well in exams and a lot of fear that poor exam performance will negatively affect your child’s future opportunities.

In the next 3 emails, we’ll share some of the most important tips with you outlining what your child can do before, during and after an exam, to limit the chances of being affected by blanking out!



Tip #1 – Practical Preparation

  • Encourage your child to be specific about content they’re needing to study for a particular exam
  • Listen attentively for advice or clues a teacher may give around the questions that are likely to come up in an exam
  • Be proactive by asking the teacher if there are any areas to focus most time on preparing
  • Factor time into their schedules for plenty practice using past exam papers when possible.

Tip #2 – Emotional Preparation

  • Get used to feeling of exam time limits using past papers
  • Create an environment that’s similar to an exam situation with no distractions prior to starting a practice exam
  • Spend some time visualizing writing the exam in a calm and composed manner
  • Using positive reinforcement to calm your mind such as phrases like “I’ve got this!”

Tip #3 – Physical Preparation

  • Ensure that your child schedules breaks for physical activities such as sports or hobbies that may help to relax and balance their minds
  • Take time to get outdoors into nature even if it’s just for 10 – 15 minutes – the benefits are huge!
  • Encourage your child to opt for healthier snacks like fruit, smoothies or nuts, rather than sugary treats that cause a spike and dip in blood sugar and reduce sustained concentration

Next,  we’ll chat about what can be done during an exam to prevent this stressful experience from happening in the moment, and next week, we’ll share a bit about what can be after exams and what can be implemented into your child’s routine to avoid future episodes.

What can do you DURING an exam?

  • The first thing to remind your child is that an exam is not a life-threatening situation even though it may feel like it at the time, and they will get through it!
  • Encourage your child to turn their paper over, close their eyes, take a deep breath and breathe out slowly. Your child should repeat until they feel calm enough to continue.
  • Leave the question that caused the blanking out and move onto the next question, or one that your child is more confident about. This will help in building confidence and momentum and ensuring that your child doesn’t spiral into a state of panic over one question.
  • If your child comes across a question that makes them feel panicky, encourage your child to mark the question in a colour to return to later. Once more questions have been answered, chances are that they may remember more to compose an answer.
  • If your child is prone to frequent blanking out, a first step could be to read the exam paper and circle questions that your child is confident about, and start with those. They’ll then have some marks in the bank before attempting more difficult questions.

NOW, we’ll chat a bit about what can be done after the fact, and how you can help to set your child up to go into test and exam situations with confidence and achieve to their full potential.

So what can be done AFTER an exam?

  • If your child has suffered an episode of blanking out, they’re likely to be upset about it! Without brushing off their feelings, remind them that beating themselves up about it is not constructive and that exams are not life or death situations!
  • Chat to your child to get to the bottom of why they think that the blanking out occurred. This will help to identify the possible causes.
  • Once the possible causes have been identified, make a list of them, and next to each one, note down strategies or solutions that could help to conquer each potential cause that can be worked on or employed before the next exam.

Here are some ideas from our experts:

IDEA #1: 

Tutors have been through exams themselves and know how to successfully navigate the content of their specific subject areas. They’ll share valuable tips and strategies to ensure the best possible exam preparation. Getting a tutor is an excellent idea!

IDEA #2:

Evaluate your child’s study skills and organizational techniques. If your child doesn’t know how to comprehensively and holistically prepare for an exam, retaining and being able to apply the necessary information is already going to be a challenge. Our Study Skills Crash Course will teach your child how to prepare optimally.

IDEA #3: 

If your child has had no success trying to navigate their blanking out on their own or the problem is worsening, there may be an underlying cause. Speak to a school counsellor about the options available. Some students may qualify for additional assistance or support.

How can BrightSparkz help? 

If you feel that a tutor can help your child with knowledge gaps that have caused blanking out in the past, or if you have about how BrightSparkz can support your child, please don’t hesitate to connect with one of our consultants.

If your child is struggling with a particular subject or even a specific topic or unit, a hand-picked tutor is the best option to help your child catch up or close any knowledge gaps before exploring more in depth learning support options. Tutors have been through it all and bring so much benefit and perspective!

Our team loves nothing more than to see students succeed, and would love to do the same for your child.


Compiled by the BrightSparkz Canada Team