VMCE, other exams what about the non tech preparation?

  • 4 December 2023

Userlevel 7
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Another possible topic for a future VMCE study group 😃.

We are not robots, although sometimes on a Monday morning I sure do to feel like one. I think that there are very few of us out there you can claim that our performance is always consistent. There are some people who I would term are forever 1 + 1 = 2. However, I know for a fact that I can be 1 + 1 =20 on a certain days, and before I quit drinking beer you could have stuck a random number generator in that equation for all my consistency was worth.

We often hear about great athletes, artists and others talking about being in the “zone”. As I understand it this is a state where things are just flowing, complications become easy and performance is optimal. 

Whatever you want to call such a state we can probably all agree that there are times when we feel that we are getting the best out of ourselves and times when we are not. 

In other words there are situations when we are not performing to or even near our maximum capabilities. This is always very upsetting and discouraging. I will never forget my 3rd year Linguistics Professor in University who at the end of the final lecture declared “Geoff you are a huge disappointment”. Back then they did not beat around the bush when handing out criticism. Objectively speaking I knew she was right, I also knew the reasons, working until 3 am 3 nights a week and then too heavy an emphasis on the development of my social skills at various parties and night clubs.

That was a simple deduction but later on in life I found that it was not as easy to determine what had affected my performance. There were times went I behaved myself angelically and yet the results were not what I had expected.

It was only recently that I read a few books on the brain and how science believes (I only say believes because there is as of yet no 100% certainty) our thinking process works. From what I could make out the mind is functioning at its maximum when it is in a calm state. I don’t mean taking depressants of some kind in order to quell pre-exam anxiety, instead a calmness within the roaring ocean of emotions that could be taking place in your head before testing. 

I began to experiment and switched my punk rock, rap, hard rock pre-exam music to classical music. There was an immediate improvement. 

Then by chance on saw a science show on TV talking about Cymatics https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cymatics The study of the effects of sound waves on among other things liguid. 

Since are bodies and subsequently minds are made up of a huge percentage of water then perhaps music really does have more than just a superficial effect on us. 

This should have been more than obvious to me after all the concerts that I had attended and witnessing some of the behaviour of my fellow humans at these events. 

I finally found my optimal combination listening Tibetan bowls, Gongs at 417 Khz or Gregorian chants. 

These sounds put me in a mood where I am aware of my feelings, i.e. being nervous, annoyed whatever, but not being controlled by them. 

When I sit down to actually write the exam I am in a contemplative state and I feel that it is in that state that I am able to max out my performance. 

Like all things human, this is a very individual experience and there is no one path for all.

The main message is that when taking into consideration your own situation try and think out of the box. Don’t just hit the books when preparing for an exam but take into account other factors that may or may not be helping you.

At the end of the day you want the best version of yourself present sitting at the examination table. 


Userlevel 7
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I know when I am driving to the test center there is something about turning the radio off and just thinking which seems to help prepare for exams. I can go over things in my head and it seems to focus me for writing.  Certain exams I am never nervous about then others sometimes.  To each their own for how you focus for exams, etc.

Userlevel 7
Badge +6

I will never forget my 3rd year Linguistics Professor in University who at the end of the final lecture declared “Geoff you are a huge disappointment”. Back then they did not beat around the bush when handing out criticism.


You’re not kidding.  The first college I went to out of high school, I was taking an electronic engineering course that would eventually develop into networking.  My first quarter was DC electronic theory.  Easy stuff.  I never studied, had good greats, all was gravy.  The second quarter was AC electronics theory.  Not as easy, but I entered into the quarter with the same mentality and it hurt.  I pretty much failed out, but also had a lot going on in my personal life and my world was upside down.  However, during the quarter, we were also learning how to solder.  I’ll never forget that I was decent at soldering.  I know this, because one of the instructors came up, inspected my solder joints, and said “Well Derek, it looks like we finally found something that you’re good at”.  Ouch!  I mean yeah, I can still solder fairly well 25 years later, but let’s just say that I decided that electronic engineer and component-level troubleshooting were not where my career ended up.  And that’s okay.


On to the subject of music for studying or focus, I have an app called Endel that I use.  I paid for a year subscription (and of course they released a discounted lifetime subscription right after I paid for a year), but I’m not 100% sure if it really helps me with focus (or sleep, or or relaxing or anything like that), but some folks have reported great results.  It uses AI to generate music that is supposed to help you with whichever category you use.  I really only use the focus, but my daughter who uses youtube to play relaxing video’s/music/sounds of background noise/music/thunderstorms, etc while she sleeps may get a lot out of it as well.  But so far, I’m undecided if it helps me or not, but I probably need to become more consistent with its use to see if it seems to help.