Studying and revision techniques may be tailored to the evaluation. Below are some study tips that helped my wife and I graduate university and become successful in our medical and aviation careers.
- Take a systematic approach to studying.
- Gather all relevant information.
- Organize the information into chunks that make sense to you and in sizes you can manage.
- Make a schedule for mastering each chunk.
Reduce the chunks of information down into the tiniest morsels you can. If you can summarize a paragraph or section with one word, do it. Imagine you had to explain the concept to your pet, reduce the topic to that level of simplicity. Use abstract connections that work for you. Try to relate the new information to your previous experience. Simplifying will help you to better understand the subject and provide you with a memory aid for the examination.
Example of abstract connection:
Leukocytes (white blood cells) defend the body against disease and foreign objects.
-The abstract connection-
Luke Skycycler is a doctor in a white cape that keeps the Martians from getting sick and fights off unmanned robots from Earth.
The abstract connection may be longer than the original idea.
The words or phrases you developed while simplifying the problem can now be used as a memory aid for the test. Try to organize those single words into another word (acronym), song, sentence, or phrase. The military loves using acronyms to teach concepts because they aid in retention and save time when discussing complex subjects. Examples of popular acronyms include RADAR and SCUBA:
RAdio Detection And Ranging
Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus
Remember the “My Dear Aunt Sally”, for the order of operations in math? (Multiply, Divide, Add, Subtract)
Doug Hegdahl famously used a song to memorize the names of American Prisoners Of War (POW) held at the Hanoi Hilton during the Vietnam War. Once released he was able to give authorities a list of American’s in captivity, changing their status from Missing In Action (MIA) to POW.
Some tests will not require a thorough understanding of a topic in order to pass; memorization will suffice. Other examinations require a combination of verbatim recitation and thorough understanding. Steps you can take to memorize are:
- Question and answer sessions in a group.
- Use of acronyms, songs, etc.
- Draw up a “data-dump-sheet” or notes then practice duplicating it.
- Talk through your notes to yourself as you walk or run.
- Repetition is key.
Take breaks, exercise, and eat right while you’re preparing.
If Circumstances Permit
Always do the “read ahead”. You’ll learn and retain more from each class if you have read the topic before heading in. It also gives you a chance to develop questions for the instructor that may be addressed in class. This may reduce your studying workload.