With my boards licensure exam around the corner, I am forcing myself to attempt to study 3 hours daily, which usually ends up being 2 hours 5 days/week. With motivation lacking, working 25 hours per week, and still trying to be active and social I found that I, myself, needed to re-evaluate my own study tips. So for those of you who are in similar positions as me, here are a list of my best study tips and tactics.
- Find your motivation. Why are you working this hard? For me, it’s getting my license so that I can keep my job and practice in the field that I’ve been working hard to be a part of for the past 6 years. Taking a step back and looking at the big picture helps remind yourself that this will all be worth it in the end.
- Encourage yourself. How I encourage myself is thinking positively about all I have accomplished thus far. I also like to write lists, even of things I have already done, just so that I can check things off my to-do list and feel good about it. Don’t focus on all you have left to do, think about how much you have done already.
- Discover what works best for you. For me, I like to use lots of colorful pens, markers, and highlighters. Looking at black pen and white paper for hours gets dull for me and I find myself losing focus. When the colors are more engaging, I feel more engaged. I also find that rewriting things and creating diagrams and pictures helps me retain the information better. For some people, saying the words out loud helps, others listening helps. If listening is for you, do some research and find some podcasts on the subject you’re studying. I sometimes find this helpful when I have a long drive, that way, I don’t feel like I’m wasting 45+ minutes that I could have been studying.
- Pick a good environment and stick to it. For some, they need the silence of a library. For me? I need some background noise, so I choose to study in noisy coffee shops. If you find it’s difficult to concentrate and not fall asleep when studying in your comfy bed… move! Sit up at a table, desk, or counter. Also have some good posture. If you study with poor posture, you’re going to get uncomfortable more quickly, and consequently want to stop studying more quickly as well.
- Prepare your study area. Get everything you need together before you begin studying. That might include books, your computer, a notebook, flashcards… Lay everything out in front of you so that you’re prepped and don’t need to keep getting up and disturbing your study process to look for that other book you might need.
- Take breaks. You can’t sit for multiple hours on end and remain hyper-focused. It’s important to take breaks for your physical and mental health. Get up and take a walk, do some stretches, or exercise, even if just for a few minutes. You should try to take short breaks every 30-60 minutes.
- Teach it. One of the most effective methods of learning is teaching. Talk with someone, preferably someone who is studying the same thing, and discuss what you’ve learned or try to explain a concept that you’re attempting to study. This is going to reinforce the information and force you to think about it a bit more conceptually. And if you can understand it better, you’re going to remember it better.
- Practice. Take practice tests and answer practice questions to truly test your memory. It will not only help you recall the information but it will also help reveal where your weaknesses are and what you should continue to work on.
- Check the app store. I’m always busy and running around and sometimes find it difficult to sit down for long periods of time to study. For my boards exam, I downloaded an app filled with practice tests and questions. It even allows me to set notifications for when I should study and tells me to complete the “question of the day” every morning. I also like the Quizlet app, which allows you to create electronic flash cards, for when I’m out and about.
- Sleep. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Sleep is how your body, brain, muscles, and organs, recuperate. With lack of sleep, you become lethargic and your ability to retain and understand information decreases.
- Take your exam in the same state that you have been studying in. This means, if you had caffeine, medication, or the likes while you were studying, you should do the same before your exam. Some studies show that memory-recall is better when your environment and mental and physical state are similar. Coffee is always a must for me… and for this boards exam, my Xanax prescription may also be required!
That’s all I have for today. Do you have any study tips and tactics that work well for you? I’d love to hear them and possibly try some new things out! Leave them in the comments below and then get back to studying 😉