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The human mechanism of learning and memorizing relies mostly on brain patterns. Read more on how to use this mechanism for your benefit on the GMAT exam.

In the modern world, our brain is constantly exposed to an enormous amount of data that calls for our attention. It is impossible for us to relate to each piece of data separately, or even absorb many of the details.

In order to deal with these huge amounts of details, our brain scans the data we are exposed to and tries to match it to previously stored patterns learned from past experience. If the brain finds a match, it just acknowledges that piece of data as known and moves on. If, however, the data is new, the brain will store it in a temporary memory stage until it decides whether to store it permanently or discard it forever.

The brain stores images, names, or parts of data that are called “memory triggers”. These “triggers” can regenerate the full memories that exist behind them. For example: if someone mentions the phrase “I’ll be back!” our brain suddenly floods us with images of Arnold Schwarzenegger as a deadly robot with a big gun. Then, you might remember him with a suit, as the governor of California. In this example, the phrase “I’ll be back!” triggered a flood of memories which were stored and tagged in your brain as being connected to Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The patterns created in our brain also help us survive by storing automatic instinctive responses to various situations. So, if a ball is thrown at us we can duck in time to avoid getting hurt. If we had to start thinking about what to do each time we see a ball flying towards us, it would strike us long before we could react to it. This mechanism is constantly on guard, and helps us carry out our daily missions – from tying our shoelaces or turning on the light, to solving complex problems or dealing with difficult situations.

A surprise happens when a stored pattern is broken. For example, when we go into our living room, without thinking, we automatically send our hand over to the electric switch to turn on the light. If, for some reason, the light does not turn on, we will be surprised that our pattern is disturbed. But do not worry. Our brain immediately carries out the pattern stored for “no light” and sends us looking for a candle and some matches, and down the stairs to our fuse box…

As advantageous as these patterns can be, they sometimes get in our way. When writing GMAT problems, if the writer knows the way our brain patterns work, he can make us carry out an expected script or pattern and fool us into feeling ok with the result we got, although it is not the correct answer. For us to get the correct answer, we sometimes have to break our own patterns – which is very difficult to do for most people.

The way the brain decides what subject is important and needs to be saved for the long term, or even become a pattern, is by the amount of importance we give this subject. The more time and effort we give a subject, the more we will save it and turn it into a pattern in our brain.

In order to succeed on the GMAT, you need to turn as many of the principals, methods, and techniques to brain patterns ready to be used at the right moment. While solving a question on the test, the right principle will be magically drawn. The right method or technique will be used, and the correct answer will soon be reached.

GMAT experts, for example, already have most of these principals, methods, and techniques as patterns in their brain due to their vast experience with these topics.

That is why they are GMAT experts…

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