Observation and Memory Section Preparation

These activities can be done in the weeks leading up to the written test to prepare for the Observation and Memory Section:

  1. Know your subject. You'll notice more if you understand it.
  2. Slow down and look outwards. Use mindfulnessto focus your attention on your surroundings.
    1. Mindfulness meditation.  Sit in a relaxed position but focus on your breathing.  Pay attention to how it feels, listen to the sound of your breath and feel your chest expand and contract.  If distracting thoughts arise, realize you are distracted and bring your attention back to your breathing.  Do this for one minute.
    2. Observe the environment.  Look at the images on the exam and really concentrate on that image.  Notice the details and what is different from the other images.  Notice the facts that stand out as unique.
    3. Slow Down. Concentrate on completing one task and one question at a time to the best of your ability.  If you get distracted, don’t feel guilty but redirect your attention back to the task or the question.
    4. Pay attention to routine tasks.  Simply pay attention to the details of the task.  For example, feel the paper between your fingers, experience the sensation of filling in the bubble on the scantron, and you will feel more positive about the task once you have completed it.
  3. Try something new. Skip a difficult question you might be stuck on and come back to it later.
  4. Challenge yourself to a mental workout. A smarter, more agile brain will help you to observe with greater insight.  Practice developing your memory in the upcoming weeks to the examination.
  5. Test your observation by playing a memory game. Describe a photograph, or list everything in the room you're in right now without looking. And remember, practice makes perfect!  When you are observant, you use your senses to examine something that you’re curious about, and you evaluated what you experience.  “Observing” is not the same thing as “seeing”.  “Seeing” is passive.  Observation is a process of paying attention, intently and actively, so that you can gather specific information to assess.
  6. Record and consider your observations. Go beyond the things you see. Note down the smells and sounds you experience too.
  7. Stay inquisitive! Question and analyze your observations. Doing this will add value to your work.