I think every practitioner has had the experience of forgetting the form sequence, which is a particularly nasty problem during ranking tests.
A common variation on this thorny problem pops up when you finish a posture like Single Whip that has many repetitions and can’t remember which sequence of movements comes next. The many repetitions in the form are a blessing to beginners, but they can also be a curse.
I think that one solution to the problem can be to take the mental attitude that there are really no repetitions in the form at all and to think of the postures in larger unique groups. Rather than think of a sequence like Cloud Hands and imagining that it occurs in several places in the form, imagine that there is an initial Cloud Hands (with the ordinary High Pat on Horse), a Cloud Hands with Snake Creeps Down, and a Cloud Hands with (High Pat on Horse) Piercing Palm. In that way, every sequence of Cloud Hands is unique.
Similarly, you can think of Snake Creeps Down (Golden Rooster) and Snake Creeps Down (Step Up to Seven Stars) as different postures. You can distinguish between the initial ordinary Turn Body Chop with Fist and Chop with Fist (Heel Kick). There is Fan Through the Back with a chop and Fan Through the Back with a “poison palm”. Each kick also has a unique preceding and following movement that should distinguish them.
For postures such as Grasp Sparrow’s Tail or Single Whip that repeat many times and are hard to keep track of, you can group them with surrounding postures that are easier to distinguish. For instance, think of the Single Whips in the Second and Third Paragraphs as extensions of other sets of more unique moves. Then remember the sequence of these other moves.
Single Whip (sometimes preceded by Grasp Sparrow’s Tail) in the Second and Third Paragraphs brackets or concludes the three different sets of Cloud Hands, Parting Wild Horse’s Mane, and Fair Lady Works the Shuttles. Then think of Parting Wild Horse’s Mane, Fair Lady Works the Shuttles, and Cloud-Hands-with-Snake-Creeps-Down as a triplet.
Another problematic sequence is Deflect Downward Parry Punch. I think of this as having three versions. The ones to the “right” or “west” always precede Stand Forward Grasp Sparrow’s Tail. The one’s to the “left” or “east” either conclude a paragraph with Apparent Closure or are in the middle of a paragraph and precede Right Heel Kick (i.e., the Punch Downward version). Hopefully, you can distinguish when you are in the middle or end of a paragraph by feel.
The only remaining difficulty becomes the end of the form. I personally think of High Pat on Horse Piercing Palm as signaling the final sequences. From that point onward, every posture has to be unique, except for two things: (1) There is a final repetition of the signature sequence of Grasp Sparrow’s Tail with Single Whip and (2) Snake Creeps Down (Seven Stars) introduces the big finale. I omit mentioning the final Deflect Downward Parry, since this shouldn’t be a memory problem.
Others have occasionally posted good mnemonics for this sort of thing, but I thought I would offer up this new thread for those who might find the approach useful. I also hope I have gotten all the sequences and repetitions right, because I, myself, still have problems from time to time. Let me know if I made any mistakes or left anything out.