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  • Writer's pictureIan Gibbs

Exam Tip #18: Everything Before Anything

Your brain is a curious thing.

Have you ever been at a party, talking to a friend when someone on the other side of the room mentions your name?


Your ears prick up.

Even though you weren’t paying any attention to them, even though you didn’t think you could hear their conversation, you noticed someone saying your name.

How was your brain able to notice that?

Our brains do all sorts of weird stuff we can’t explain.

The day I was writing this paragraph, I’d been trying to remember the name of a woman I’d worked with a few years ago. I could remember her name began with R and had four letters and the only name that came to mind was Ruth which I knew was wrong.

It was 30 minutes later when I’d given up trying to remember and was filling the car with petrol, that a part of my subconscious suddenly came up with the answer.


Her name was Rita.

But why did my subconscious decide to remember just then when I had stopped trying?

It makes no sense.

Or should I say, it makes no sense to people who don’t realise our conscious thoughts (the thoughts we are aware of) only represent a small proportion of all the things our brain does at any given moment.

Even though we’re unaware of it, our subconscious is constantly processing, storing and retrieving ideas we’ve taken in at some point.

It just sometimes takes a little longer than we’d like.

What this means is that if you read ALL the questions before you start to answer any of them, you’re achieving various objectives.

You’re familiarising yourself with the exam paper.

You’re assessing the easiness of each question.

You’re starting to absorb the requirements of each question AND you’re allowing your subconscious to start working on them.

For instance, you read Question 4: it’s a challenging question about bacteria.

Your stress level doubles when you realise you can’t remember anything about bacteria.


But don’t panic.

This, unfortunately, is a common occurrence.

Just continue reading the other questions. The information you need will come to you, you simply need to give your subconscious brain a little time to rummage through your neuronal archives and dig out the information you require.

Another advantage of reading each question is it allows you to decide which questions are the easiest which we’ll be looking at in the next vlog.

So do you usually read the whole paper before you start answering?

Or are you the sort that dives in and hopes for the best?

Reading the whole paper first before answering anything will allow you to absorb the instructions, familiarise yourself with the questions and give your subconscious mind time to start working.

Important benefits for anyone interested in getting a better grade.

Tip 18: Read everything before answering anything and give your subconscious a chance to get working.

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