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Exam strategies

HELP!! If anyone has any ideas on how to have an amazing memory for an upcoming exam I have to write, please help!!! I heard one student take ginko biloba (spelling?) and she practically had a photographic memory and aced this exam. I take the exam on April 12. HELP ! All suggestions appreciated!

Funeralgirl 7 Feb 14

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I took the RE exam in Missouri. There is no substitute for simply knowing and understanding the material. READ READ WRITE what you READ and READ again. I passed no problem first time.

awesome ! congrats!

@Funeralgirl Thanks but I haven't sold RE in many years. Good Luck


I take 480MG of Ginko Biloba a day . It takes 2 weeks before you notice a difference , & you have to start of slow or you get a headache from doing too much of it . I started off with 60MG for 3-4 days , then kept adding another 60MG every 4 days to a week till I hit 480MG , which is 4 120MG capsules . I hear good things about Prevegen (spelling) from jelly fish . The idea behind anti oxydents are that your body makes so many red blood cells in your body at a time . Antioxydents extend the life of those red blood cell , increasing the amount of them in your blood stream . The more you have of them , the more oxygen that is carried to your brain . Another trick , & this one is weird , but you can feel instant results if you do it right . Put peanut butter on the back of your tongue , & rub it into the roof of your mouth , while tilting your head back , & keeping your mouth open . The hardcore people that do this wear a bib , because of the length of time they do this , makes their saliva drip out of their mouth when doing so . You don't have to do it that long to feel the effect , but once you do , you will agree that that is the next step . THere are other ways too , but try what I've suggested so far , & let me know how it works out .

Dougy Level 7 Feb 16, 2018


got mine today!!

@Funeralgirl Shopping on a Sunday! I love it ! 😉


Thanks for all the great advice,


Bingo Biloba works. Start taking it a few days before the exam. Staying calm, and learning the subject over the entire class works best. I use index cards to help memorize the key parts, and the stuff I have trouble remembering

Thanks! good advice


My favorite exam strategy was the time I used the curvature of a clear pen to hide and magnify the tiny cheat sheet I created and hid inside of the pen. Before you jump down my throat it was an Art History exam on Expressionism. I got the only A and that A stood for ingenuity. Sometimes passing the exam is more about outsmarting the test. Remember the Kobayashi Maru!


That entirely depends. Is it essay questions, short answer, or multiple choice? On what subject?

You have 2 months to study, take a breath...

all multiple choice, lots of math (real estate calculations) real estate law, mortgage law, and a ton of other stuff. yes, thankfully its 2 months away.

@Funeralgirl So multiple choice is relatively easy as they give you the answer.

  1. Check to make sure there is no penalty for guessing which is normally true. That means a wrong answer just gives you zero points, not negative points.
  2. Get practice tests if you don't already have a couple.
  3. In multiple choice the wrong answers are called distractors. Generally one or more of the distractors is obviously wrong.

With a practice test, set a timer for the amount of time you get to complete the test.

Take a lightning fast first pass through the test, pick any answers that are obviously right.
Put a mark on all the one you aren't sure about but cross off the distrators that are obviously wrong for those questions and mark the answer that you have a gut feeling is the right one.

Then take a second pass through the test, ignoring the questions you were sure about and taking your best guess on the right answers for all the other questions.

Then, if you have time, take a 3rd pass through the test checking every question. If you aren't sure, pick your first choice.

Then grade your test, go through each question and make sure you understand your mistakes.

For something like a real estate test there are probably online study tools or apps that can quiz you with test questions, flashcards etc.

Take a full test every week, study your weak areas in between, cycle through 2 or 3 practice tests and you'll be fine.


Memory palace. Rosemary.


Helpful hints: Eating fish within 3 hours of the exam,
taking a few derris scandens or two St. John's Wort capsules.
Speed-reading the text material before the exam, since it can only be done with the right hemisphere of the brain, which has photographic memory.

How to speed read; take strip of neon orange paper, or a marker of that color, and drag it down the page of a book.
Don't try to read, let your brain slip into the same mode used for "seeing" a 3-D picture, or for painting a picture.
Keep your eyes just above the marker as you quickly drag it to the bottom of the page, then shut the book, while holding your place, and have someone start reading one of the sentences on the page aloud, then stop.

If you can't finish the sentence, drag the neon orange strip of paper down the page again, except speed it up.

Test again, and if you still can't finish a random sentence, speed up the speed reading again, until you feel your brain shift into right-brain hemisphere mode, where you feel dreamy and happy.

As soon as you can finish a sentence, then stop, and let your right brain rest. If you've never read with that side of your brain, you might feel panicked, or think it's all crazy, but ignore it..the left side of the brain doesn't like to relinquish control.

After you get used to it, then skim on through your test material and you should have photographic memory of it for your test.

This used to work when I forgot to read our daily novel assigned to us at the university, and the test papers were coming down the rows of desks toward me. I'd grab the book and zip through it, then ace the test, with total recall.

Good ideas! Thanks


My one and only experience with cramming the night before an exam, was one that informed me never to EVER cram for an exam again.

Study a little bit each day leading up to the exam (I agree with the post by @trois2005 below), even cram if you want to (study very hard basically).

DO create a cheat sheet (CS) for the exam. Plan and make a sheet of information you think is critical for the exam that you need. This helps you to organize your thoughts about the material, and the exam. This is true even if you can NOT use it for the exam. It also helps you to study as you can look over your cheat sheet for things you have missed and pick them up OR look it over and if you have questions, dig back into that part of the information on your CS that you think is weak. Shore up that information, make sure you have it right on the CS and your confidence will grow with this.

But, whatever you do, do NOT study for the exam the day before. Give you, and your brain, a 24 hour rest. During that 24 hour 'hands off' time frame, at the MOST, lightly scan your cheat sheet.

Sleep well before the exam.

Be calm.

Know that the worst that can happen is that you take the exam (or course) again. I know, not a happy prospect but, the reality is it truly is not the end of the world.

I believe that last is true even for doctoral dissertations (you get a chance to revise). So, don't sweat it. At the WORST, it's a practice run.

Now, IN the test (stupid test taking tricks): BREATH. Very important!

  1. scan the test (if you can) and tackle the easy problems first. Basically, note which ones you can rapidly do and prioritize those problems.

  2. If there is no penalty for a wrong answer, for a guess, leave no question unanswered! Make a guess.

  3. A high percentage of the time, your gut is right. Go with it. Unless you can prove you are wrong! I teach math and this was proven out in my exams. I saw so many students erase the right answer, and write in the wrong one. So, again, unless you can PROVE your first answer is wrong, leave it alone! Go with that first instinct.

  4. If you auger into a problem/question, you are just spinning and eating up time, and there are other problems to work. Skip it! Move on to another problem.

  5. If it's a math exam: look for answers elsewhere IN the test. Yep: we math teachers do that on purpose. We really will put the answer to question 3 down inside question 14. 🙂 (and you thought the teacher was being an idiot by leaving the answer to question 8 on the board during the whole test for ALL to see... You'd be surprised how many students duck down like they aren't supposed to be looking... yes, we do that on purpose too).

  6. Take a break! It is perfectly ok to stretch. Look at the clock, if you are sure you can kill a minute or two, put your head down, close your eyes and relax. Just forget about the exam and let your subconscious chew on the problems you have read but haven't finished (one of the advantages to scanning the test is your brain will start working on those problems even though you are not doing so actively). Note: don't waste time doing this. A minute, even two, is ok, don't fall asleep and don't take a 10 minute break! (This is why you got a good nights sleep the night before.)

  7. The really obvious stuff: bring an extra pencil. Note: mechanical pencils can be #2 pencils, just check the lead you buy. Bring your favorite eraser, etc (whatever they allow). Oh! Use t he calculator that they allow you to use BEFORE the test. Get to know it so that you aren't staring at a sea of new keys wondering what they all do, wasting valuable time, rather than just inverting that matrix in three key punches (if not one)... and, yeah, that last is IF this is a math exam or IF you can use a calculator in the exam (I have saved I don't know HOW much time knowing how to save matrices in my calculator then manipulate same, rather than doing it by hand, or having to punch them in several times... most of the math exams will use common elements as a way of saving YOUR time t his way).

  8. I am sure I have more but this post is far too long. 🙂 Feel free to ignore the math direct stuffs if you are not (sadly) taking a math exam. 🙂 Now, the rest of you pay attention to the math stuff! 🙂

Note (related to above comment about it only being SO important): I am NOT saying just take the exam to see what it is. I AM saying that stress will cause as much problem as not studying. So, do your best to understand that it is merely a measure of how prepared you were with this information and if you don't get the grade you need the first time, you can do it again. Seriously, you did it the first time. The second time would be easier and give you a chance to dig a little deeper (I have not yet failed calculus and have taken it at least 6 times!).

Note: I had to take a comprehensive math exam to get my teachers license and I tried to study for it. This was fifteen years after I'd graduated and I just couldn't get back into study mode. So, I didn't study. The exam was incredibly important, but I had time to take it two or three more times before I needed it for my license. So, I gave up on studying it and took it. Fully expecting to fail, but to get a wake up call. A solid assessment of where my skills really were and what subjects needed the most work.

The FIRST problem I proved that every answer was definitely wrong! Talk about how to crater your confidence right out of the gate! I drew upon my own test taking skills: skip it. I went on to the next problem and just plowed (no, I did NOT take my own advice and scan it first, I KNOW that is good advice, it's just not a skill I have ever been able to develop as my brain just starts working a problem as soon as I read it so it's hard for me to NOT plow, but I have always been VERY good at tests). At the end, I came back to that first problem, saw the error of my thinking and noted what I hoped was the right question. This exam pulled in problems from grade school through advanced calculus. It really was comprehensive and I was sure I had failed it.

I passed with one point to spare and the test was Pass/Fail so I was good to go (took it again about 6 months ago, no studying again, and did MUCH better).

Thank you, all great ideas, and yes there is math, its a real estate exam, 100 questions with a 70 pass. Thanks for your advice. I'll post my results. the exam is April 12.


A little study each day. Easier to remember small bits at a time. I've heard the same about learning musical instruments 30 minutes a day is better than 2-3 hours twice a week.


I heard writing down (either verbatim if you're good at recollection or in your own words) what you just heard or read helps in keeping them in your memory. Just the process of repetition helps - it's like playing sport: muscle memory. The brain is a muscle.

(I write them in the palm of my hands. And sometimes I forget to wipe them off.)



yes Im doing that of course! LOL


I heard this guy on NPR a long time ago. I thought it was intriguing but I've not read it.

Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything []

thanks I will check this out


Mushrooms. lol


Use hooks in your head. Make things into a story or a pattern that makes sense and would show omissions. Play Grandma's Attic with lists and things get much easier.


I'm afraid to ask what kind of exam. When I worked for the University we would get transcripts from all sorts of schools. There would be courses titled 'facial reconstruction' (I remember one lesson on 'ears'😉, 'embalming' and other fun things. It was almost as interesting as animal husbandry especially when things like 'insemination' and 'castration' were listed.

I have heard it is best to study just before going to bed. One retains the knowledge better when the mind is relaxed. Everything I have read says that cramming is bad.

LOL its for my real estate licence.. no embalming, thats done and done.!!! I can embalm no problem

@Funeralgirl I will check with my daughters since they both passed that exam in florida.

@GipsyOfNewSpain thanks !

@Funeralgirl Sorry, since being on this site so many obscure memories keep coming back. The fun we had looking at peoples transcripts. I remember once we had a competition for the most outlandish name, and the winner was : Claude Queer (he was French - poor guy with a name like that one can never forget).


I used to have a better memory, but for me it was just reading and writing down the major points. Once I write stuff down its there for a while. Also, just keeping up with the class work. And it hasn't been all that long since I was a student, I was non traditional, got a degree at 50ish.


Adderall......from what I have heard.

what is adderall and can you get it at the pharmacy?

@Funeralgirl It's a brand name for an amphetamine (upper) that is prescribed for ADHD. It is Rx here and I assume, in Canada. Don't take it without talking to your Western medicine MD and tell them all the herbals you are taking... Unless you are ADHD, I'd pass.

Adderal is an amphetamine combo[speed] usually used to treat ad/hd

@JanGarber I think I would be afraid to take that

@Funeralgirl it is very very popular in colleges here in the states. It helps with focusing on a particular task (such as studying) and keeps you awake. Hence the popularity in colleges.


I never found anything better than plain hard work.

thanks that is true too!

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