February 20, 2012

5 Tips for Highly Productive Studying

One of the most overlooked aspects of preparing for a major exam is how you setup and organize the proper study environment. I recently had a conversation with Pacific Medical Training about this very issue. Pacific Medical Training provides an online service for advanced cardiac life support certifications to medical professionals. Doctors and nurses are required to study a thorough and comprehensive set of algorithms and then pass a lengthy exam to obtain a medical card as required by their employers. Their customers have been out of school for some time so they often hear … “I don’t remember how to study!”

It all starts with organization and a good environment. Here are 5 tips to setting up the most productive study time:

1. Minimize distractions
The first items you should consider when deciding how to study are location and distractions. Distractions come from everywhere. Parents, friends, Facebook, instant messaging, smart phones and text messages can be major distractions. Even hunger and sleep are distractions. Setup a time and quiet place when you can be comfortable and alone. Turn off computer and phone and make sure you won’t be hungry or sleepy.

2. Know your learning style
Everybody has a learning style that suits them. Do you like to see things visually, listen to a lecture or both? Do you like to read for 30 minutes, review and take notes? Make sure you’re prepared to create a learning environment catered to you and have the tools you need ready ahead of time.

3. Organize lengthy subject matter into smaller units
Studying comprehensive material can be challenging and intimidating, especially if you’re not confident in the subject matter. You can take some of the fear and intimidation out of studying by breaking it into smaller units. You won’t feel like your preparing for everything at once and your focus will be much improved.

4. Take notes
Have a pen and paper handy at all times. When you make a realization or discovery that makes sense jot it down. Or, if you’re confused try to write out your thoughts. Most of the time, just the process of writing down a concept is enough to help improve understanding and memory.

5. Set goals
Goal setting is a great way to keep on track and move through a lot of material. It improves focus and organization. Setup goals that push yourself through the units or chapters of material and when you get through a significant milestone you might even give yourself a little reward.

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