The secrets to test-taking success contained in this article are no substitute for regular and diligent study throughout the semester. However, this strategy may be able to help add a few points to your score on your next day's test. Since a few points can make all the difference, this strategy deserves your consideration. Read this material (or better, have it read aloud to you by a friend) in the comfort of your own home on the evening before any law-school examination, bar examination or other major test in any field. Do not attempt to listen to or read this material in a motor vehicle or while engaging in any potentially dangerous activity.
Now student, no one but you can take the examination that now concerns you. But as a law professor, I believe you and I can spend a very few minutes profitably now on helping to maximize your performance.
Have you ever noticed how freely correct answers come to mind right after an examination, too late to do you any good? Perhaps the flash of genius you needed during the exam comes afterwards in the student lounge or in the car on the way home? "If only I had thought of that when I needed it!"
One of the problems test-takers often face is inability to access correct information from memory during the test. Once the test is over, information seems to flow more freely.
The reason for this is that information gushes forth best when you relax. Your goal, then, as the examination begins is to enter into that relaxed frame of mind in which information wells up from your unconscious mind and springs readily into consciousness -- the same relaxed state of mind you formerly achieved without knowing it when, say, driving home after the examination.
You've heard that the human mind is like a tape recorder, and that every fact that ever entered your mind -- every word spoken by a professor in your presence whether you were paying attention or not, every word in your casebook ever read by you even only once, is stored somewhere in your unconscious mind right now. The challenge is accessing that information.
When you take the examination that concerns you, the information you need will come more readily to you during the examination.
Now, student, no one except you has the right to control, attempt to control, or be responsible for your mind or mental functions except you. I do not have the power or the right to control any part or portion of your mind. It's your mind. Therefore, relaxation has to be on a do-it-yourself basis, exclusively under the controlled choice of the use of your mind.
When you enter the examination room, you will do nothing against your personal moral standards or the honor code, and you will not need to. But after the experience of reading this advice (or even better, having a friend read it aloud to you), when you enter that examination room you will be able to tell yourself to relax and drift for a few moments. You will then read over as much of the examination as you are permitted to read at that time.
After you have read briefly over the examination or exam segment, you will then take a few minutes -- the length of time will of course depend on how much time you have available for the examination or exam segment -- to relax and think about two things. First, imagine yourself in the classroom where you studied the material on which you are now being tested. Close your eyes briefly and imagine the room, the professor, your classmates, the sight, sound and even the smell of the room in which you received the information on which you are being tested.
Next, mentally leave the classroom and imagine something pleasant. Let your mind relax and drift for a few minutes, taking your imagination to a place you find pleasant and relaxing. Imagine yourself there, with not a care in the world.
After a few moments, let your mind come back, still fully relaxed, to the examination. Continue taking the examination in this frame of mind. When you return comfortably to the examination at hand, you may be more relaxed and relive, recall, see, feel, hear or remember even more detail with your mind. As you relax to the maximum, by using a minimum of mental energy, just let the information flow smoothly, comfortably, and easily into your mind.
For additional examination segments or other exams later in the day, repeat the process.
To summarize, first relax. Second, read as much of the examination as you are permitted to read at one time. Third, take a few moments and close your eyes, imagining the sights, sounds and smells of the classroom or other significant place where you learned or studied this subject. Imagine the professor and your classmates. Then in your imagination leave the classroom and travel in your thoughts to a very pleasant, relaxing place, real or fantasized. Finally, after a few comfortable moments, come back in your mind to the examination and begin to answer as many questions as possible (or jot down on scratch paper if permitted as much information as possible), while still in this relaxed frame of mind.
Your mental exercise should take no more than ten per cent of the time allotted for the exam or exam segment in question. When you use this technique, you will be surprised how much more freely the information will flow and how things you didn't even know you knew will spring to mind.
Continue studying tonight, reviewing especially the most important items. Do get a decent night's sleep. When you awake tomorrow morning be alert and refreshed, review a few items very quickly, and then enter the exam room with the powerful strategy you have just learned.
Study well, use this strategy, and have a successful examination!
Return to The Castle Classroom
Copyright ©2002 by M. R. Franks - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED