Developed by Tony Buzan (2006), TEFCAS is basically a learning (mnemonic) formula, an acronym that spells out the basic steps that the human brain takes to define an experience. TEFCAS stands for Trial, Event, Feedback, Check, Adjust, and Success (Buzan & Miller 2004).
When you seek feedback, check regularly, and make the necessary adjustments, you are engaged in learning; with persistence, success is guaranteed. There is no failure in TEFCAS, only success. (Buzan & Miller 2004)
Below is an explanation of what TEFCAS as a metaphor:
Depending on your goal, this is every attempt to achieve that goal, “you have to try it; you have to throw the ball”. (Buzan & Miller 2004, pg6)
This is the memorable moment “when you throw the ball there will be an event, a physical absolute, and that event will be that ball the ball will land on your head, on the ground, in your hand, or in your partner’s coffee” (Buzan & Miller 2004, pg6) For example, becoming speechless in front of your audience, or being unable to deliver on a promise to a client.
Through its extraordinary senses, your brain receives information through your five senses and intuition (feedback) from the event in the form of light waves, sound waves, vibrations and/or aromas. (Buzan & Miller 2004)
After feedback has been received, your brain will process (check) that feedback (i.e. how you have performed in relation to your goal). And based on the basis of the feedback, adjust accordingly. (Buzan & Miller 2004)
After checking the feedback, your brain will then make the necessary adjustments for your next trial, always keeping your goal in mind. “If it’s thrown too far, your brain will try to throw it not so far next time; if it landed in the coffee cup, it will try to have it land in its hand next time – your brain is always making adjustments” (Buzan & Miller 2004, pg6).
“The ball lands in your hand” (Buzan & Miller 2004, pg6): reaching your goal after repeating steps 1 to 5 (Trial, Event, Feedback, Check, Adjust) as many times as needed.
However, during the learning process your brain does not usually judge your goal. So if it is something negative like harming yourself, it will still view reaching that goal as being a success. Therefore, you should be careful how you formulate your goals.
An example of how TEFCAS can be used to improve studies would be:
Depending on your goal, this is every attempt to achieve that goal. For example, in order to score well for an exam subject, the goal would be to understand key concepts and remember them, and ultimately developing an effective mind mapping style.
This is the memorable moment when you have read through and highlighted (or underlined or circled) the key words or concepts of each chapter of the textbook, deciding what central image would be more appropriate and how many main branches would be sufficient to be used in the mind map. If the textbook is thick, you can combine relevant chapters into sections to form one mind map, or use a larger piece of paper could be used to contain all the information instead.
Your brain receives information (key concepts) when the mind map is created with the laws of mind mapping, each time the mind map is read and/or re-done from memory.
After feedback has been received (level of comprehension of key concepts), your brain will process (check) that feedback (i.e. comparing the result of the recall process with the goal of passing well for the subject’s exam). And based on the basis of the feedback, adjust accordingly. (Buzan & Miller 2004)
After checking the feedback, your brain will then make the necessary adjustments for your next trial, always keeping your goal in mind.
For example, if the level of comprehension of the key concepts is not up to expectation (satisfaction), your brain will adjust itself to reach the goal of understanding and/or memorizing the key concepts by repeating 1 to 5 (Trial, Event, Feedback, Check, Adjust) until the goal is attained (satisfactory).
When the brain has deemed that the feedback (understanding and memorizing of key concepts) is satisfactory, you would have reached your goal and moved on to the last step 6 (Success). In order to have reached your goal, steps 1 to 5 (Trial, Event, Feedback, Check, Adjust) would be repeated as many times as needed.
As mentioned by Buzan and Miller (2004), TEFCAS works well when combined with mind maps: with mind maps helping you to effectively plan, while TEFCAS helping you to monitor and react to the planned outcome; both tools helping you to keep focused on your goals.
Thus, by combining TEFCAS and mind mapping, problems and situations can be solved in a logical and reasonable manner: you will be able to create powerful graphic representations, which are a universal key to unlock the potential of your brain.
1. Buzan, T 2007, Use your head, Ashford Colour Press, UK
2. Buzan, T, & Miller, C 2004, ‘Success at work’, Resource Magazine, autumn 2004, p3-7.