First Person

Reading-Day Rituals

By Peter B. Gardner, ’98, Associate Editor

By 2:30 a.m. I’d had one Fudgesicle too many. It was my first final at BYU, and in preparation for the daunting biology test, I was attempting my first all-nighter. Having consumed an entire bag of microwave popcorn, a couple of candy bars, and three chocolate ice cream bars, I felt more queasy than alert. I’d have to find a more sophisticated strategy. For later tests I resorted to pacing for hours around my apartment (and eventually across campus and into the Testing Center) with my notebook open in front of me as I read my notes out loud to no one in particular. This behavior didn’t help me get dates, but it proved fairly effective as a test-preparation strategy.

Like athletes preparing for the in-state rival, many students come up with meticulous “pre-game” rituals and test-taking strategies. Ranging from the sensible to the superstitious, these rituals include common approaches, like cramming and offering prayers of desperation, as well as more peculiar practices, like wearing a charmed hat for four days straight, eating a specially crafted diet of “brain food,” creating elaborate mnemonic devices, and listening only to a particular musician while studying. Whatever your method for success, we want to hear your stories about the rituals you depended on when preparing for or taking tests in college. Send your anecdotes (of fewer than 300 words) to First Person, BYU Magazine, 209 UPB, Provo, UT 84602 or