In this fifth instalment of my prep for the CWAP-402 exam, I’ll be explaining the process of mental levelling and brain dumping during the final week before the exam. It’s time to release the brain.
With one week to go before the exam I am now going relax my routine and be less rigid, and allow my brain to start telling me what it needs. After all, I have been cramming information in there for the last few weeks, so the least I could do it give it a chance to sort it, arrange it and identify what’s missing. I call this “mental levelling”.
Understanding your brain begins with an appreciation of what it does.
Most people will be familiar with the left-brain / right-brain theory that states that different hemispheres of the brain are dominant at different things.
The left-brain is often described as being better at:
- Critical thinking
The right-brain is said to be dominant in:
Traditional study tends to focus on left-brain only. Dreary, bland slides with endless bullet points, read out by bad trainers… This all too common approach to training appeals only to the most basic left-brain functions.
When you attend the exam you will be given a plastic sheet that you can write on. Once you are in front of the screen, you have as much time as you want before you click to start the exam. Use this time to brain dump. And with one week to go before the exam, now it’s time to start practising the brain dump.
Grab a piece of paper and some coloured pens and write everything you know about the subject you are being tested on – in this case, CWAP.
Here’s an example of a brain dump I made quickly:
I made this sample brain dump with no plan. Just a blank piece of paper and some coloured pens. I waited for my brain to talk. The first thing that came out were my mental stories – David Davis balancing on his Rabbit is at the top left. Below it is “Is the dinner, Crepe, overdone ?” – that’s my mentalisation of the CWNP troubleshooting process. I am highlighting what I know I know. If this was the exam, and I had a question that was covered by something on my brain dump, I would simply read off the answer rather then have to run through my mental tricks to find it.
A few other scribbled notes highlighted a couple of things I needed to double check – things I think I know. 802.11ad and 802.11ah – which is 60GHz and which is sub 1GHz ?
What about things I don’t know ? Well, if something popped in to my mind and I simply couldn’t visualise it or come up with anything to write in the dump, then I know I have to go and study some more.
Using brain dumps can be incredibly powerful and will carry forward all of your hard learned knowledge. Using them before the exam will help with your mental levelling. Make your brain dump when you get a burst of inspiration (that’ll be your brain shouting out). If it doesn’t happen naturally, you may need to plan it but don’t feel too bad if it takes time for ideas to come.
So, here is the procedure with one week to go:
- Continue with 15 practice questions each day.
- Periodically brain dump to give your brain a chance to let you know what it needs. Aim to do it at least three times.
- Only refer to the study guide to check facts.
- When you go to bed, mentally visualise yourself entering the exam room and creating your brain dump. Run through your mental stories.
With one week to go, you are giving you left-brain and right-brain strengths a chance to filter and balance all the information you have crammed in. You should now be in great mental shape for the exam, and you brain will be working with you.
This process describes my personal approach to taking exams. This is based on my own experiences, feedback from many students I have coached, and from research into learning theory. Preparing for exams is a personal thing and these methods may not work for you.