London, Jan 14 (Agencies):  Relieving stress just before an exam or a speech can be made easier, all you need is a pen and paper to boost up your performance.

The technique is so powerful that students taking an exam showed a 20 per cent improvement in their marks if they used it just before sitting down.

“People are in stressful situation and they worry about it and the consequences,” said Sian Beilock at the University of Chicago.   

Beilock further says that these worries are taking up resources that should be dedicated to the task. Putting pen to paper appears to offload these worries.

He had previously shown that pressure-filled situations can deplete a part of the brain's processing power known as working memory.   

Working memory is lodged in the prefrontal cortex and is a sort of mental 'notepad' that allows people to 'work' with information relevant to the task at hand. But the notepad can also be filled with anxieties- thus losing brain power.

Beilock is one of the leading experts on 'choking under pressure' - a phenomenon in which talented people perform below their skill level when presented with a particularly challenging experience.