My 15 year-old daughter is taking a standardized test in English and as I think about preparing her for it, I’m reminded of an exam I took not so long ago. It was for Psychopathology, a required class for my graduate program in Social Work. We were essentially required to memorize the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), read scenarios and apply diagnoses.
All of us students were struggling.
On the last day of class, we showed up on Saturday morning for our final. Before our professor passed out the exams she said, “I want you to close your eyes.”
Being the dutiful student I am, I complied.
She then went on. “Imagine yourself in a library. See the rows of books and all the information. This is what is within your brain. It has all the knowledge and answers. Allow yourself to access this, remembering it is here for you as you read each question and answer it.”
As I listened to her words, I saw myself in the library. I observed how my mind was made up of all this information, of the countless hours I’d spent studying notecards, discerning the differences between types of schizophrenia and personality disorders, between major depression and dysthymia, and on and on.
I took a deep breath acknowledging that all the answers would revel themselves to me. Then I opened my eyes and took the test.