Back to recall
Part of all the compressing of information can be done as you work through the subject during the school or academic year. The object is to reinforce the key elements progressively, discard the unnecessary and generate a growing involvement in the subject that carries you along and energizes your work. Ideally, you should reach the point where you live and breathe your subjects and are driven by fascination, not examination.
This compelling or even consuming interest spurs retention of information to the point where, if you could somehow retrieve everything you have learned, you would be amazed at the sheer volume of files tucked away in memory, in this case random access memory.
Facing the test
Your swotting is finished, the memory sheets are by now firmly implanted in your mind and you can recall them completely at will. The urge to read over your notes is nagging away when you see peers strung up in intellectual knots trying desperately to remember detail. For one horrible moment you wonder whether this is not all an illusion and whether, when the chips are down, the command processor (to maintain our metaphor) will fail.
That is the final key – self-confidence. You have to believe in yourself, in the capacity of your mind to proffer the information at will and in your own ability to translate that into legible words, well spelled and punctuated.
Stick to the golden rules.
1. Never, never swot the night before. If possible, take a total break two or three days before the exams start and forget everything, everything.
2. Trust yourself.
3. Don’t fret if you can’t sleep before a big exam – but don’t lie in bed trying to recall everything you know. You may crash the computer with overload.
4. Keep fit and get adequate exercise in the run up to the exams. But don’t overdo it. And if you begin to feel ‘stressed out’ you’re allowing emotion to drown out reason. If you have followed the plan properly there’s nothing to worry about, so go for a long walk in peaceful surroundings and empty your mind.
5. Last of all, don’t ever open a book, let alone your notes, on the day of the exam. If you don’t know it now, you never will. (But, of course, you really do.) You can have one small concession, however. You can take a quick refreshing peep at your ‘trigger’ sheets, just to reinforce the patterns in your mind.
A final word of warning. On the day of the exam, and preferably not in the days before, don’t attempt to reproduce facts flowing from the aide memoire on paper. This is because the mind, or some people’s minds, seem to have an erase function. Once the material in your mind has been triggered to flow into consciousness it seems to be purged because it is now offloaded on to the paper. Focus on the triggers by all means, but leave them to do the work when the time really comes.