Many of you know that I am taking a job related exam this coming July. It is making me nervous and I am just praying that I pass even if it is just one question above the pass mark. From all accounts, I hear it is a nerve-racking four hours, one step up from absolute hell. Yea for me!! So I thought I would share some thoughts about my study habits that might be helpful. What helps you get the most out of your study time?
- No distractions: Really this is a no-brainer but you really do retain more in 15 minutes of undistributed focus then you do in an hour where you are constantly distracted. For me, this is my kitchen table as long as others are not around or the public library. This kind of intense studying really does require me to park myself in a quiet corner of the library.
- Music: This does mean classical music for me. I work best with music for 2 reasons: first, it keeps my mind focused and not running off in thought about what I need to get done or what I would rather be doing and second, when played over headphones, I can drown out all other distracting noises around me.
- Time limits: I studying in 30 minute intervals. I set a timer and I focus intently. When the timer goes off, I can stand up, stretch, use the restroom, grab a drink of water, etc. all while I review what I just studied. I hate working in long stretches and forgetting what I read 3 hours ago because I didn’t pause for a moment to review.
- Sleep: No, this isn’t to praise getting a good night’s sleep before an exam (although that is good advice); this is to push for a 15 minute cat nap. After 3-4 hours of intense studying and review; I set an alarm and take a 15 minute nap. For me, this solidifies the subject matter. It really does work. When your alarm goes off, stand up, stretch and read the headings of what was studied. You will find you can more easily grab the key concepts and they are committed to your memory.
- Real world application: If I need to remember a date, name, formula, etc.—I always attach it to something current in my life and then it doesn’t seem like such an abstract concept anymore since now it is directly relatable.