- The more senses we use the better we will retain something. For the information that is black and white such as formulas and definitions if you copy and say them out loud 10 times you are about 80% likely to retain that information. I use note cards for the information so I am killing three birds with one stone. So I am reading, writing and saying out loud ( not whispered in my head) the definition I need to retain.
- When you are planning for a test you should always look to see if they have a layout of the test or a blueprint. This will allow you to spend your time effectively. If 50% of the test is on 1 or 2 topics than 50% of your study time should go into that topic however if 10% of the test is on a subject you should only spend 10% of that time studying that topic.
- Always start studying by taking a sample test. This lets you know what your strengths and weaknesses are. You will be amazed what you actually know.
- Always read the answers before you read the question. This allows your brain to know what answers are available and will search for the correct answer to the question.
- Make sure if there is a specific book they suggest you use that you have access to a copy of it. If it is a sleep test you should have an AASM scoring manual and the Articles written by the AASM on titrations. If it respiratory therapy you should use the texts that your school uses and check the NBRC and AAST websites for articles on new therapies and standard procedures for delivery.
- Give yourself enough time to study. You should start studying for a test 6 months prior to the test. If it is a test you can take upon graduation than you should take it as soon as possible. The longer you wait the more information you will loose. However if you are preparing for a test where you are not taking a course than you should spend at least 6 months preparing and studying a little each day. Cramming will do nothing but make you nervous and you will not retain the material you need.
- Always sleep well while you are studying. You all know that if you do not sleep well the information will not move from short term memory to long term memory.
I I was chatting with some technicians the other night who were concerned about remembering everything they needed for taking their test. As I was talking with them I realized no one had ever taught them how to study or how to take a standardized test effectively. This surprised me since we have to take so many tests in this day and age. So where did the lessons in how to manage our time effectively go. I am not sure, but I thought I would share some of the best tips and tricks I was taught to help me study.
I received an E-mail from the National Association of Respiratory Therapists the other day saying congratulations on the anniversary of you credentials. It made me thing how long I have been around the field of respiratory and sleep and what changes have I seen. It also allowed me to draw several parallels from the two fields.
When I went to school in Paramus NJ back in the 1980’s Respiratory therapy still had many OJTs in the field. They did not have licensure. They had many school with certificate programs rather than AAS degrees and there were only a handful of BS degrees in the country. It was a young field with a great deal of potential and was finding its way in the healthcare arena.
I was truly lucky I had the best instructors who allowed me to see a great future in the field and drove me to be the best therapist I could be. They encouraged the whole class to take not just our CRTT exam but to take our RRT as soon as we were eligible. They taught us not just the minimum we needed to pass the exams but also those skills we would need to grow with the field. It was truly a program ahead of its time. When I look at where many of my classmates are I see several who have run departments and gone into management and I believe there are a teacher or two from then as well.
When I look at the field of sleep which I have been in for 10+ years ( I know where does the time go) I see so many parallels and I am excited about its future because I see so many great people stepping up to the plate and leading. I see programs starting to develop across the country. I have even had a hand in one. I see people taking on leadership roles and state societies emerging and helping to develop licensure laws. I even see a future where sleep will need its own degree program in order to keep up with the field as a while. That is if we can stop the infighting and focus on the future instead of who is right and who is wrong. We need to take that leadership on ourselves instead of letting other people take it over.
What do I see has happened to me and my job since 1987 when I graduated my Respiratory program, I see a world where we have changed how patients are treated when it comes to breathing disorders. I see a world where care has more scientific study than ever before. I see a great deal of potential.