Are you getting prepared to take an IT certification exam and feel like your study habits aren’t cutting it? The study material may be different than the things you used to study. Perhaps you’ve been choosing the wrong time to study, should change your study technique, or need to build better learning and study strategies. We become what we repeatedly do, so our habits can either make or break us. What could you be doing differently in order to study effectively and prepare for exams the right way?
Studying for an IT certification exam includes adopting a lot of technical knowledge, so you will need to employ more effective study skills and strategies. It all depends on your will, preparedness, and time management. It would be best if you didn’t leave anything until the last minute but set up a clear timetable for your study. Write down how many topics you have to cover and the days on which you need to study. It is very important to find a balance you feel comfortable with, understand that the pressure can be your friend, and study smarter, not harder.
MyComputerCareer provides exam prep courses which includes assistance in learning how to study smarter, not harder. For more information, contact us today!
Understand the Concept of Study Cycle
We begin our study guide with the concept of the study cycle. A typical study cycle can be broken down into several different parts, including:
- Attending class
- Checking your understanding
Trying to take shortcuts and skip any of those steps will have you missing opportunities for effective studying. Be sure to understand the importance of all stages of a study cycle. By following it, you improve your long-term memory, which is for the information you don’t have to remember this instant. When you’re preparing for an exam, that is long-term memory at work.
Organize Your Study Space
Start your test preparation by organizing your study space. Do you have enough space to spread out your notes, textbooks, and other course material? Do you have enough light? Is there enough room to create an IT test lab? Can you install and use the software required for the certification exam? Do all you can to get rid of all distractions. Make sure you can pay attention to the study material and feel comfortable in your study space. Some people study more effectively when surrounded by other people (e.g., in a library), some students learn better when alone in complete silence, while others find background music helpful. You may need a tidy environment to organize your materials the way you like it, or maybe you thrive in a cluttered environment. Take your time to get things right.
Use Visual Aids
When revising course material and test questions, visual aids can be extremely helpful in learning and study strategy. For example, when starting a topic, challenge yourself to write everything you know about it. Then, detect the gaps and highlight those areas. As the exam date comes closer, condense all your revision notes into diagrams. When you get your ideas down in this format, you will be able to recall important information during the exam quickly.
Trying to study for as many hours as you can is a counterproductive learning method. It won’t do any good for your long-term memory, so it’s important to take regular breaks. Avoid taking breaks longer than 15 minutes, but set the alarm for every 30 minutes and a take short, 5-10-minute break. Shorter study breaks will give you enough time to stretch, breathe, and refocus before getting back to learning. While studying, you should have water and snacks to fuel your brain. Nutritious snacks before studying and drinking enough water will help you stay more focused. Break your study time into chunks with 5-10-minute breaks between for the most effective learning (we will discuss spaced repetitions more later in the article).
Problems are Not Your Enemy
In technical courses, such as courses for IT certifications, working and reworking problems are very important. You must be able to explain the steps of any problem and why they work. It is often more important to work problems than to read the text. Write your problems in detail, annotate each step, and ask your course instructor to help you clarify them. During your test preparation, pull a list of problems from your course material, work them, and explain the steps to their solutions and why they work. Test yourself.
Study smarter, not harder. Every test is specific in itself, and one of the best test taking strategies is to practice as you will perform. Recreate practice tests, find older versions of the test, and use those questions as your practice questions. Make up or find practice questions that are of the same type that will be on the test, put all your study materials away, set up timed conditions, and start working until you complete the test. A great way of addressing the problem of test anxiety is visiting the testing center and the examination room to get comfortable in the space. To create or find practice questions, you can:
- On your course training, participate in studying sessions and ask each other material-related questions
- Use questions from your textbook study guide
- Use the chapter review questions from your textbook
- Write outlines for performance-based questions
- Turn your lecture notes and the headings in your course material into questions
- Make flash cards – a question on one side, the answer on the other
Spaced repetitions (also known as distributed practice or spaced practice) is a learning and study strategy where the practice is broken into short studying sessions over a longer period of time. Humans learn more effectively when they study in several sessions spread out over a longer period of time compared to studying repeatedly in a short period of time. That phenomenon is called the spacing effect. Spaced repetitions enhance problem-solving, long-term memory, and the transfer of learning to new contexts.
People believe that testing and learning are two separate things, so they prepare for exams but study inefficiently. They sit down with notes and a textbook and read the materials over and over again. Once the material looks familiar, they think they’re done studying. However, testing yourself is one of the most effective learning styles because it prompts you to study in the way that you’re going to be tested. Your study situation is similar to the testing situation, which is why you will be able to recall the information during the exam easily. In turn, the time spent on learning the right way helps build your confidence. When the test day comes, you’ll be sure that you’ve learned the material properly and know which test question specifics you should pay attention to.
Before you delve into some of these test preparation strategies, be sure to have a solid command of the material and subject matter that will be presented on your test, then try some of these strategies. Remember to adapt these strategies to the specific type of IT exam you are taking. Remember to organize your materials, pay attention to details, and test yourself with flash cards, answering test questions, and participating in studying sessions. Once you have learned the material, keep on studying to solidify the material and learn more.
As you develop your study skills, you will be able to learn more effectively and rapidly. In the IT industry, there are always new techniques to adopt and skills to learn.
MyComputerCareer is an adult technical school with IT courses taught at our seven campuses (Indiana, North Carolina, Texas, and Ohio), as well as online. Once you manage to complete our rigorous IT courses, you may earn up to thirteen valuable certifications in fields like Cyber Security, Computer Networks, Operating Systems, and more. Are you seeking career advancement or are a novice trying to enter the IT industry? For more information, contact us today!