The importance of ritual tends to be overlooked in modern society.
We love to believe we have moved beyond the dark ages when ritual was comforting and made us feel safe from the things that go bump in the night.
But, I think some ritual in life is a good thing.
One place for ritual is before exams.
My freshman year of college, I shared a dorm with a genius, who happened to be a sophomore. Seriously, the smartest guy I have ever known.
Not only was he smart, but he knew how to play the academic game. He graduated with a 3.98 and went to Stanford on a full-ride to get a Ph.D.
Anyway, I found out how well he did his freshman year and asked him how I could replicate it. He gave me lots of advice, including this:
“Always have a pretest ritual. Follow the ritual no matter what, and then go in and kick that test’s ass.”
Being eighteen years old and a little clueless, I settled on a somewhat trite ritual of listening to a particular song to get amped up before the tests.
And I stuck with it.
I listened to that same song before every test I had as an undergraduate, a graduate student (not very many) and as a law student.
I wasn’t about to break that ritual before the bar exam. And I did not.
Do you have a pre-test ritual?