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.


  • 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.

Standardized testing is a way of life if you want to work in the healthcare field.  Using some simple study skills makes your time more effective and you have a better chance of passing the first time.  Remember that the person who passes with a perfect score and the person who passes by 1 point will still have the same credentials.  This is about testing your knowledge about your chosen field and not a way of torturing you.


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