1. Q. "The most questions we receive are from students facing exams who want...
(*Evelyn Wood 1909-1995)
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1. Q. "The most questions we receive are from students facing exams who want "secrets" for acing their tests and classes?"
Ans. We do have tested 'strategies' that student feedback indicates can add as much as 20% to test-scores, and help ace their exams.
What happens when we get stuck on an exam, and cannot 'think' of the answer to questions that are just on the "tip-of-my-tongue"?
1. You rattle your mind to wake-up - with 'silent' screams of - "Think-think-think!", to make something happen. All this terror produces 'silence' and mental- 'sweat', not answers. It's like kicking a "flat-tire" to get it to inflate itself. Now, you 'mentally' hear - "Why doesn't this work - I "know" the answer, if I just "try-harder", I can "will-it" to snap-back into my skull." About now, you look at your watch and feel precious time slipping away. Terror!
2. Now, you are really frustrated and start abusing your mind with 'curses' only you can hear - "What a jerk!", "I got a defective-brain!", "Hopeless and helpless!" Does this sound familiar? - "My father is going to make rude remarks about me getting a job at the Post Office or McDonald's flipping burgers -and mean them!"; "This is the end of life - as we know it!"; "I am just not a scholar, no attention-span!", and finally, "That's me - "in-one-ear-and-out-the-other"!"
3. Finally, you have hit the lowest-point of this 'thinking-strategy' - it's so common it even has a name - "Brain-Lock!" It is a union that links your brain with your body - through your emotions - to 'paralyze' your memory and logic.
Well - what have you accomplished so far? You have activated your stress-hormone - 'cortisol', and your blood pressure, heart-beat, circulation and breathing are 'hyperactive', and all "thinking" is lost in favor of 'fight-or-flight', not answering 'dumb' test-questions.
By this time - you have forgotten your home telephone number, and are ready to stand-up and surrender. Well, we guarantee it is not a case of premature Alzheimer's, nor permanent "amnesia", it is just using a negative testing-strategy.
2. Q. "Sure that describes many of my tests. So?"
Ans. What's the pro forma advice? Skip that particular question, and go on to the next, but your anxiety is pushing you into "hypoglycemia", low-blood sugar. You really need a 'time-out' to change your "mind-set", and the quickest way is to relax and chew a slice of sugarless-gum, and then stand-up and shake-out your skin and bones for thirty-seconds.
What has happened - beside 'terror', is a "pooling" of your blood into your feet and behind. You need five (5) diaphragmatic (deep), breaths and a little exercise to return to speed-braining. Stop worrying about the clock - if you don't take a break you are going to stay on the "UNtesting" track and strike-out anyway. Do the deep breathing - it takes less than two-minutes. When you're done - you have drawn an extra 10% oxygen and glucose to your brain - as fuel for cognition.
3. Q. "Great, I'm breathing - how do we find the answers?"
Ans. We are going to forget about "thinking", which is a left-brain, linear- verbal process - for a few minutes, and activate a different kind of memory, it's like a "back-up" system in your computer. It combines your right-hemisphere, limbic-system (emotions), and your "gut-reaction"(Enteric Nervous System). We are going to access our "intuition" and "intention", to become creative.
Sit down, take a 'single' deep (diaphragmatic) breath and relax. Now 'close' your eyes, and look-'upward' toward your 'left-eyebrow'. If you relax a moment to permit your brain and body to explore your Memory Bank, it will return with a 'word-picture or sound'. Please - no conscious 'thinking', and stop trying so hard to remember. Trying hard has a name: the Law of Reversed Effort, the harder you "try", the worse the results.
Why are you shutting your eyes for a half-a-minute' in the middle of a test?
Answer: you are blanking-out the real-time circumstances for 30 seconds, and mentally leaving the anxiety of the testing-room. The deep breathing slows your heartbeat and blood-pressure, and orders the hormone - cortisol - to stop pumping and return to normal.
Why are you looking 'upward' to your left-eyebrow?
Just remember this for knowledge's sake - by looking 'left' you are accessing your left-hemisphere - which controls the 'right-side' of your body, and activates language, words, logic and reasoning. If you relax you begin to get 'flashes' of a word-or-two, and they will often remind you of the answers to the questions. Some students 'hear' a word-or-two in their right-ear that reminds them of the missing answer.
What has happened is a repair in your brain's cognitive 'automatic-transmission', (caudate-nucleus), and when you open your eyes you will be back in the testing-game.
4. Q. "That really sound nutty - and you say it really works?"
Ans. It works for 60% of testers, and there is a second strategy that works for the other 40%. This one is used with your eyes wide "open", and starts with a deep-breath. This time move your eyes 'upward' and to the "right", searching for your 'right-eyebrow'. This voluntary action causes you to access your "right-hemisphere", which controls the 'left-side' of your body - which activates internal-imagery, your emotions, mood, and intuition. It awakens your "gut-instinct". When you relax and search 'rightward' - you get answers in mental-visualizations (pictures or diagrams), or just "feel" (emotionally), the rightness of the answer.
5. Q. "What happened to 'thinking' on the test?"
Ans. Thinking not the same as memory-retrieval. When there is a 'logical-thinking' question, or a 'comprehension-section', reading and thinking work best. We are giving you two strategies (upward-left, and upward right), usable when you fall into Brain-Lock.
6. Q. "Does "mind-set" or attitude have anything to do with better test-scores?"
Ans. It accounts for as much as 25% of your test-score, assuming you have crammed for the exam. Here is a strategy that is extremely effective when you use it.
We are talking about choosing to put a 'make-believe' smile on your face, or remember a stupid joke to make you laugh. The smile and the giggle are intentionally used to activate you limbic-system (feelings), to excite your testing memory.
It was Professor William James, at Harvard, a century ago, who wrote about the power of 'Acting-As-If' for learning and memory. If you decide to 'smile', for no good reason, or laugh at a joke you tell yourself, which you heard a hundred times, your facial muscles relax, and your brain shifts 'mood'; and you increase your attention-span, concentration and ease into long-term memory accessing. 'Act as-if', 'feel-as-if", and 'believe-as-if' - it is so, and your mind changes your brain's neural-circuitry for an improvement in cognitive behaviors.
Please remember this: a real or 'false' smile on your face, a 'purposeful' laugh or giggle under anxiety-provoking circumstances - changes your mind-set and is a wake-up call to your brain to start concentrating and search your Memory-Banks for answers.
7. Q. This stuff still sounds weird, like San Francisco New Age thinking, anything else we can try?"
Ans. This has been very valuable for students who have trouble remembering what they study - 'porous concentration' When you are stuck and cannot come up with an answer you absolutely know you studied and understood - ask the question 'aloud'. Something different occurs in your brain when you hear your own voice, than when you think - silently.
Even a 'whispered' question activates our 'corpus callosum' - to translate the verbal question into imagery and emotion. It is our corpus-callosum that permits communication from our left-hemisphere to our right-hemisphere, and vice-versa. Remember - our left-hemisphere (brain), is verbal and uses words, while our right- hemisphere communicates in imagery and emotions. The two halves of our brain work together because of our 'switchboard' called the corpus-callosum.
We all have a Second-Brain, called our Enteric Nervous System, located in our intestines - the diaphragm. It communicates with our two-hemispheres through the Vagus, the tenth cranial nerve. So what? This second brain, is the site of our "gut-feelings and instincts", and when activated, can offer valuable 'intuitions' for finding creative ways to answer test-questions.
Hearing 'mentally", in reading and thinking activates our dominant left-brain. When we ask a question aloud - in a positive format, we get help from both halves of our brain, our emotions (limbic-system), and our Second-Brain.
Remember - the secret is a positive, expectant statement. "I want to remember the term for ." or, "I can easily recall the meaning of .." When we speak 'aloud', it activates powerful 'bone-conduction' sound, together with our vocal-cord sound. Silent-reading activates 'only' our vocal-cords, and we hear words 'differently'. To activate attention and concentration we require bone-conduction and vocal-cords. Test this principle on a recorder and notice the differences in sound quality.
Q. 8. "I am getting antsy and my brain is slipping - but what about the Einstein System of pegs and links? Do 'active-verbs' enter into testing better?"
Ans. Learning to Use the 'peg and link', method creates stronger memories than forced-repetitions. Active-verbs active our limbic-system, specifically the hippocampus, by cooperating with our amygdala for 'emotional-memory'. Both methods improve memory-retrieval up to 40% better than ordinary repetitious-learning. If you are ready to add 20-40% to your memory - learn 'peg-and-link', and the power of 'active-verbs'.
And that's it. Be healthy, be useful, and have fun.
©copyright 2004 H. Bernard Wechsler www.speedlearning.org email@example.com
*H. Bernard Wechsler and the Speedlearning Institute are not associated, connected nor affiliated with the present management of Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics, who own the registration-mark - Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics. H. Bernard Wechsler is one of the founders of Evelyn Wood speed reading, graduating 2 million, including the White House staffs of U. S. Presidents - Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Carter.
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