How Heston Blumethal can help you master your CIPS Exams

A bold statement I know, and you are probably thinking here she goes again with her strange statements.  I had a landmark birthday back in December and as such, I was treated to go to the Fat Duck, the three-Michelin star restaurant owned by chef Heston Blumenthal. I love food and I particularly love theatrics, so it was the perfect birthday present.

Now if any of you wish to go, I do not wish to spoil the surprise, but essentially the memory is designed to play with your perception of food, based on memory, taste, smell and your own perception.  Their signature dish is called the sound of the sea, which involves you listening to waves crashing and seagulls squawking through headphones from inside a shell while eating the dish.

At one point during the nearly 4-hour experience, two women dressed all in black approached our table and asked us to follow them.  They took us upstairs into their wine cellar, in which there was a table, no chairs, with a glass of red wine at either side.  We were asked to taste the wine first, and then they were going to play us a song and put on some lights.  We were to carry on sipping the wine throughout.  They started flashing red lights in our faces while heavy dramatic music which is more likely to be found in horror films played.  As this happened the wine went from tasting full-bodied and fruity to being bitter and dry and tasting like cotton wool in my mouth.  It was explained to me that this is because the lights and sound create physiological changes in our body to change our perception of how the wine tasted, our memory of the taste can be impacted through this change in perception.

So why am I telling you this?  Because these factors that caused the wine to taste different can be harnessed to help improve your memory for your exam.  Sense of smell is closely linked with memory. Do you remember your grandmother’s perfume? Do certain smells bring you back to a particular holiday or time in your life? This phenomenon is known as the “Proust Effect” 

As explained by Dr. Ken Heilman, Professor of Neurology and Health Psychology at the University of Florida “Smells do bring back memories. Smell goes into the emotional parts of the brain and the memory parts, whereas words go into thinking parts of the brain.”

When it comes to studying, we can use smell memory to master our exam technique. For example, if you spray an unfamiliar scent while studying and then spray it again right before your exam, you will trigger your memory of the material you previously studied. If you are stressed lavender oil can help you while revising and also in the exam.

There is also a strong link between taste and memories. A 2014 study between the University of Haifa and the Riken Institute, the leading brain research institute in Tokyo, found there is a link between the region of the brain responsible for taste memory, and the area responsible for remembering the time and place we experienced the taste. Therefore like smell, taste triggers memory.

This can be used in your exam.  For example, if you chew a flavoured chewing gum that you do not usually chew while studying and then chew it during the exam, the taste has the potential to trigger memories from studying.

There you have it, get playing with tastes and sounds and have it as an extra thing to use in your revision arsenal!

Other than these tips, another great option is to complete practice questions, did you know we have these available to buy standalone? Click here for Level 3, and here for Level 4

Level 3 Diamond Timetable

Exam Series Module No. of sessions Dates
March 2024
M2 & M3
6
15th Jan, 29th Jan, 5th Feb, 19th Feb, 26th Feb, 4th Mar
May 2024
M4
3
15th Apr, 22nd Apr, 29th Apr
July 2024
M5
3
3rd June, 10th June, 24th June
Nov 2024
M1
3
7th Oct, 21st Oct, 4th November
Mar 2025
M2&M3
6
13th Jan, 20th Jan, 27th Jan, 10th Feb, 24th Feb, 3rd March
May 2025
M4
3
7th Apr, 14th Apr, 28th Apr
July 2025
M5
3
2nd June, 16th June, 30th June

Level 6 Diamond Timetable

Exam Series Module No. of sessions Dates
March 2024
M2 & M5
5
25th Jan, 1st Feb, 8th Feb, 22nd Feb, 29th Feb
May 2024
M4 & M7
4
18th April, 25th April, 2nd May, 9th May
July 2024
M3 & M8
5
30th May, 20th June, 27th June, 4th July, 11th July
November 2024
M1
3
10th Oct, 24th Oct, 7th Nov
Mar 2025
M2 & M5
5
30th Jan, 6th Feb, 13th Feb, 27th Feb, 6th Mar
May 2025
M4 & M7
4
3rd April, 10th April, 1st May, 8th May
July 2025
M3 & M8
5
5th June, 12th June, 19th June, 26th June, 3rd July

Level 5 Diamond Timetable

Exam Series Module No. of sessions Dates
March 2024
M5, M15 & M9
4
31st Jan, 7th Feb, 21st Feb, 28th Feb, 6th March
May 2024
M3 & M8
4
10th April, 17th April, 24th April, 1st May
July 2024
M4
3
5th June, 11th June, 26th June
November 2024
M1 & M2
5
9th Oct, 16th Oct, 23rd Oct, 30th Oct, 6th Nov
Mar 2025
M15, M5, M9
5
29th Jan, 5th Feb, 12th Feb, 26th Feb, 5th March
May 2025
M3 & M8
4
9th April, 16th April, 30th April, 7th June
July 2025
M4
3
4th June, 18th June, 2nd July

Level 4 Diamond Timetable

Exam Series Module No. of sessions Dates
March 2024
M3, M5, M7
6
23rd Jan, 30th Jan, 6th Feb, 20th Feb, 27th Feb, 5th March
May 2024
M4 & M6
4
9th April, 16th April, 23rd April, 30th April
July 2024
M8
3
4th June, 18th June, 3rd July
November 2024
M1 & M2
5
8th Oct, 15th Oct, 22nd Oct, 29th Oct, 5th Nov
March 2025
M3, M5, M7
5
29th Jan, 5th Feb, 12th Feb, 26th Feb, 5th March
May 2025
M4 & M6
4
8th April, 15th April, 29th April, 6th June
July 2025
M8
3
10th June, 24th June, 8th July