My "Cheating" Days

Published on Monday, May 09, 2005 in , , ,

It seems like I've always been interested in recreational mathematics, since I first realized it could be fun. However, the interest in memory techniques came later, during college.

Through my interest in magic, I'd occasionally heard of performers who did great memory feats, but I would think, "wow", and then move on.

During a summer break from college, I finally picked up Harry Lorayne's "The Memory Book", figuring it would both help in my studies, and might possibly be used in a magic trick or two. I read through carefully, and practiced the techniques before moving on to further techniques.

It turned out that one of my classes in the following semester, 18th to 20th century Art History, would be the perfect testing place for this new-found skill. The mid-term and the final in this class consisted solely of being shown 60 paintings. To get full credit for each painting, we had to write down the name of the artist, the name of the painting and the year it was painted, within 5 years (so, for a painting done in 1775, answers ranging from 1770 to 1780 would get credit).

Further, the teacher told us which painting would be on the test.

Thanks to memory technique, I only spent 2 hours studying for the test - that's only 2 minutes per painting!

The next day, when the mid-term was given, the test was a breeze. I could see all my mental links in each painting, and got every part of each answer with no problem!

Well, there was one problem...

The teacher had never seen anyone get 100% on this test before, including the exact years for all the paintings. She could only conclude that I had cheated on the test. When I explained to her that I hadn't cheated, she replied that if that were so, then I would have no problem taking the test again under her watchful eye. I agreed.

The day before the scheduled make-up test, I strengthened my mental links, just to be sure.

The day of the test, I stayed after class, and she had re-arranged all the slides in her projector. The only light in the dark room was on me, so she could keep an eye on what I was doing. She would show slides, and then watch me write the answers down.

After only about 10 slides, she came and picked up my paper. She hadn't seen me take out any crib notes, or look at my arm, or cheat in any other way. After seeing that my first 10 answers were correct and cheat-free, she apologized and re-instated my previous 100% grade!

I suppose many people might have been bitter about being accused of cheating, but I couldn't help realize that the whole series of events came about because of the unbelievable results of a trained memory!

I think the magician in me took over and said, "If she can't believe that a trained memory was the answer, how about when it is used before audiences?"

Thus began a new passion for me, that has lasted to this day.

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2 Response to My "Cheating" Days

2:42 AM

This is a great story as well as a really inspiring way to start a great passion.
I enjoyed reading that.


12:14 AM

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