Does Meditation Help with Exams?

Meditation is a proven tool that can reduce anxiety, clear your mind and create a clam mood.

But can meditation also help you improve your exam scores?  Meditation can definitely help you to pass exams and even improve your test results. Meditating is the right way to boost your concentration, stay focused and  increase your working memory capacity.

Meditation is a broad topic and for a beginner like me certainly overwhelming  especially on how to get started to use it to improve my study and exam techniques.

Clear your mind and focus

The greatest advantage is that clearing your mind helps you focus on the task at hand. The most powerful effect of meditation is that it reduces fear and anxiety which is often a serious problem for test takers even if they are prepared thoroughly. Studies with students have shown that because of the sharpened mind and the calm mood test scores increased. Enhanced reading comprehension during their studies and the exam was a result of being able to practice mindfulness which reduces the tendency of your thoughts wandering elsewhere. The students that participated in a two-week mindfulness training were able to reduce the amount of time their thoughts were drifting away. They were able to improve their working memory capacity and as a result, achieve a much better test score compared to the group that did not have a guided meditation training .

How and where do I start meditation?

Meditation is much more than just breathing. I never even tried meditation before I met my wife nor had I really any idea why I should try it at all. She is from China, has been to India and other Asian countries where different forms of meditation are much more common than in Germany where I come from. After she showed me some basics I was hooked and decided to sign-up for one of the best-rated beginners courses I could find on Udemy (If you want to check it out a click on the image below will take you there)

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I specifically picked this course because I wanted something practical and easy for beginners without the spiritual touch. 

Different kinds of meditation and their effect

A recent research of the Max Plack Institute studied the effects of different kinds of meditation on the brain and their corresponding effects. These can be directly tied to your study efforts and how they can improve your exam preparations:

Mindfulness meditation

People who had participated in this form of meditation showed changes in the areas of the brain that are responsible for understanding the perspective of others and of yourself. For your study and exam preparation, it is important to focus on your weaknesses and be able to accept how others perceive you. This helps you to shift your effort and focus on what to study and how to study and make changes to your practices where required.

Focused awareness meditation

Students who learned this meditation were able to improve their focus and bringing their mind back as soon as it drifted away. Keeping the eye on the ball also worked when dealing with emotional sensations. The participants in this group showed an increased activity in the region of the brain that is related to attention. Keeping your focus and attention is crucial for your study and exam but especially dealing with emotional sensations like fear or sudden events and bring you back on track during the exam is very valuable. I remember a situation where during my exam there was a computer malfunction and I had to change my seat. This completely derailed my focus and I had a hard time getting back into the game. I passed in the end but if I had known how to deal with this situation it would not have been that nervewracking.

Loving kindness meditation

This part of the experiment assessed the effect of loving-kindness meditation on how 2 individuals were able to work as a team.  The brain scans showed increased activity in regions that are responsible for empathy and compassion. The ability to work effectively as a team is a valuable skill during exam preparation and can significantly accelerate your progress. Since one of the best learning methods is “show that you know” which means to teach it to others meditation supported teamwork can be an effective tool.

What are the benefits of meditation for exam preparation?

  1. Meditation works anywhere This is extremely powerful right before or even during an exam. There is literally nothing you need except the right training to create a call mood and reduce anxiety.
  2. Meditation reduces anxiety The ability to reduce fear through meditation at any time in any place is especially valuable when you experience fear bursts during a test. Those bursts might be caused by a series of questions you might not know immediately or the remaining time which seems to be melting away. Being able to continue in a calm mood without panicking might save the day.
  3. Meditation improves sleep quality A high quality sleep reduces the number of hours you actually need to be fully rested. My article about sleep improvement also lists some other factors that influence your sleep quality. Just take a look.
  4. Meditation increases self-awareness If you have a better understanding of who you are and can identify your thought patterns more clearly it is easier to understand how to overcome obstacles like e.g. one of the most common roadblocks while studying: procrastination.
  5. Meditation reduces stress There is no doubt that long study periods and extensive preparations next to your job, family and all the other daily obligations can put you under a lot of stress. Using meditation to reduce the pressure is not only beneficial for you but also for the people around you like your family and friends. 
  6. Meditation decreases revisions This benefit I did not test out myself but I found a study where someone conducted interviews with students and what their personal experience was with studying under the guidance of meditation. Most of them reported that because of their enhanced focus and comprehension ability the number of revisions reduced dramatically.

There are quite some other benefits of meditation which are not directly related to study and test-taking like the reduction of age-related memory loss or the ability to deal better with addictions. If this article sparked your interest consider taking the beginner’s meditation course I recommended above. If you are interested in how hypnosis can help you with your study effort you should take a look at my article here.

Related questions

Is yoga a form of mediation? No, Meditation is a part of Yoga and focuses primarily on relaxation and concentration. Yoga is defined as the unification of body and mind and envisages wellness of human beings both physical, mental and spiritual.

What else can I do to improve my focus? Another important aspect when it comes to concentration is not only how to get (faster) into a focused state of mind but also reduce the number of times you are being disturbed so that you have to refocus again. You might want to take a look at my article on time-thieves and how to get rid of them to learn how to reduce distractions.

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