How Boredom Stands in the Way of EPPP Test Prep Success

Constant lack of motivation or distraction could be a sign that boredom-induced stress has taken over your ability to thrive in EPPP test prep. These signs also point to burnout but, when paired with disengagement or frequent avoidance of your EPPP study materials, it could also mean that it’s time to rediscover the joy of learning.

A classic example of how boredom can override the ability to focus is with elementary aged children. Have you noticed the excitement of a child preparing for his or her first year of school? Learning is associated with discovery and newness. Any hesitation to go to that first year of school is often rooted the fear of being separated from parents. At some point in some children, a shift can be made from excitement towards learning to being unmotivated to complete school work.

Perhaps you have similarly felt disengaged with your EPPP test prep materials or constantly find yourself procrastinating what you have set out to do on your study schedule.

In Psychology Today’s blog, Where Did the Joy of Learning Go?, Judy Willis, M.D., M.Ed., goes into detail about what is happening in our brains when motivation is lost to extended periods of boredom.

“The amygdalae are switching stations deep in the brain’s emotional limbic system that are stress-reactive. In the stress state, such as with prolonged or frequent boredom, metabolic activity of these emotional filters increases. When this happens, the ability of the amygdalae to direct input to or from the thinking and reflecting brain, the prefrontal cortex (PFC) is limited.”

When communication between the amygdalae and the prefrontal cortex is compromised, information doesn’t get stored properly into long-term memory making recall of information difficult and ultimately creating an association between failure and learning or failure and a specific subject.

“For many children, the stress response to boredom and low personal relevance builds year after year when they do not find learning interesting or relevant. When children’s brains develop negativity to school, the stress state limits their voluntary control to sustain attention in class, do homework carefully, and persevere at challenging classwork.

Their brains learn to automatically resist putting mental effort into activities they have experienced as boring or irrelevant.”

As far as your EPPP test prep goes, your brain’s ability to build an association between studying and boredom could be the cause of the unwanted and automatic disengagement you might be experiencing. This does not necessarily mean that the content itself that you are studying is boring. It could mean that the act of studying has, over time, elicited in your brain an automatic negative response to studying due to previous extended periods of boredom (caused by lack of interest in other subjects or methods of study) which have built an association. The communication between the amygdalae and the prefrontal cortex could be compromised due to the negative association.

A learner who has not suffered from associations built by lack of engagement would be able to store information more easily into the long term memory.

“In the normal state, without high stress, the amygdalae allow input from the senses (what we hear, see, feel, experience) to reach the PFC [prefrontal cortex] where it can become long-term memory. The PFC is also the control center that, in the nonstress state, sends communications down to the rest of the brain to consciously and thoughtfully direct our responses, choices, and behaviors.”

So how do you encourage your brain to perform in a non-stress state to overcome the effects of boredom and achieve EPPP test prep success? Willis suggests in her article, focusing on children’s disengagement with school, that parents help their children make connections between their interests and what they are learning in school; “The curiosity prompted by your reminders of their past experiences and current interests becomes a brain bridge ready to link with the information the (sic) must learn for school.”

For your EPPP studies, it’s all about engaging with the material as opposed to thinking of it as material that just needs to be memorized to pass a test. Think about how you will use certain concepts when you become certified to practice psychology or match ideas and scenarios with ones in real life. Though much of the content of the EPPP can be grounded in life-like scenarios, you can beat the motivation damaging effects of boredom-associated studying by applying terms, concepts, and scenarios to people and places in your life that have relevance.

Because some signs of boredom are similar to signs of burnout, it is important to remember the balance between studying too much or too little. While over-study can rob your brain of the chance to store information, letting your brain zone out on social media or television can put it in that stress-state induced by boredom.


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