It has been many years since I have actively shared here, but my post today is on behalf of an 18-year-old PhotoReader who had Biology finals, and has recently informed me that in the toughest written examination of the Biology course, he scored perfect marks. That is a feat to be lauded, in my opinion, as it is something only the most diligent and knowledgeable of students can get in this particular type of examination.
I requested that he outline the steps he took to go from learning PhotoReading to applying it with such skill, in the hope that it will help those who are beginning the journey. Please note that I will not be answering any questions on this, as it was not I who took the examination. I paste his comments below:
The initial errors
At first I had done a long preview before the photo reading step. In that preview I did what I would do now in post view: survey the whole book, write lots of trigger words and review my purpose.
After photo reading I tried to activate the book all in one go (this was 3 massive chapters). I did this by reviewing my purpose and super reading and dipping. But I never wrote down any questions and I never asked more questions as I got into the book.
After 3 long super reading and dipping sessions, going through the whole book, I got tired and frustrated and that's when I contacted you.
The strategy that immediately worked for me was:
- Refine my purpose so the emphasis is on RECALL rather than IDENTIFYING the information I need (p.s. by the end of May I could recall the textbook practically word-for-word with a detailed recall of nearly all diagrams and bullet-points)
Super read and dip
- Work chapter by chapter rather than through the whole book at a time
- Ask a baziliion (as many as possible) questions after EVERY super read and dip session and review last time's questions
- Every 2 or 3 super read and dip sessions, each lasting about 10-20 minutes, I make a mind-map and continue to add ideas to it
- I ended up making about 18 mind maps where each mind map had a branch for each chapter. In each mind map I contributed something new I had gained from the process of asking curious questions and dipping to find the answers.
- I initially had a strong anxiety about my ability to recall but over time, as I asked the same questions I had trouble answering from memory then mind-mapped the answers from memory, everything came into my head with easy recall.*
- Before the exam, I covered the smaller branches of each mind-map and attempted to recall as many details as possible. Fortunately for me this was relatively easy.
- I followed Paul Scheele's strategy of taking tests with your whole mind, for all my exams. It didn't make the exams easier but I'm sure it helped to incite my inner mind.
*There were some concepts which had a lot of details. At first I could remember only 1 or 2 details. As I continued to probe further into the concept, I began to recall more points on my mind-maps.
For instance, one concept was immobilised enzymes in industry. There was a table of advantages and disadvantages. At first I could only recall one advantage and no disadvantages. Over time, I began to have a subtle idea about what the other points were about so I asked questions based on my hunches and wrote them down. Over time, I came to the point of quickly recalling all advantages and disadvantages and my understanding of it felt instinctive.
I note in closing that the same themes of purpose, questions, and layering the activation in multiple sessions are all crucial parts to the system. Although everyone has slightly different methods of activation, my own experience of meeting many PhotoReaders over the years is that these themes are always present. In my own journey so many years ago, it wasn't until Alex finally shined a light on this that I ultimately found success in this endeavour.