If there is one thing that I have never been very good at, it is studying. I usually crammed for tests and hoped I would do well enough to pass a class. Even if I did study, I wasn’t studying the right things and I tried to remember everything possible for the test.
Over the years, I have learned that this is NOT the right way to approach studying. Now that I am trying to study to take the PMP exam, I needed to be more intentional with my studying and study smarter.
Here are 10 tips I have learned and implemented to help me with my studying.
Set aside dedicated study time.
If I don’t plan to study, it won’t happen. I need to make sure that I set aside time during the day to study. This could be for 30 minutes to an hour or it could be longer on the weekends. If I don’t set aside time, and tell myself I need to study at such-and-such time, it won’t happen.
Try to study a little bit each day.
I know this is a challenge, but try to study a little bit each day. I found this very helpful when I had a hard concept to grasp – I am looking at you Integration Management. Since I studied that section each day, I was able to finally understand it.
This will help keep the concepts in your mind instead of going a week or two without touching the book. If you do that, you will probably have forgotten what you were studying before and you will have to go back and refresh. That is a time waster, so just don’t do it. A little bit each day will keep everything fresh in your mind.
Get rid of all distractions, including animals.
I am guilty of this one. I need to completely remove myself from all the distractions around the house – the TV, the computer, my phone – everything. I need to completely unplug to be able to fully concentrate and get some studying done.
I have found that even if my phone is in the same room as I am, I will be more inclined to check it. I try to completely remove myself from all the distractions that I can.
Seek a quiet location.
I love my husband, but boy – he loves his television. This obviously is hard when you are trying to study and remember important concepts. Sometimes going into the other room doesn’t really help. So, I have been contemplating about going to Starbucks or somewhere else to try to study.
I don’t mind noise or conversations, as long as I can’t process what is being said.
Buy new supplies to keep you motivated.
What is it about new supplies that make someone so happy? I used to love the beginning of the new school year or a new semester because that meant new supplies. I bought a bunch of new highlighters and post-it notes to help me study for this test.
Being able to use the new things I bought has helped to keep me motivated. I am not sure why that is, but it seems to work for me!
Make notes in your books about things to remember.
This one is a no-brainer for most people, but I found that if I put “Review” or “Need to remember” in my book, I will actually go back and review those concepts. Writing in the book – and highlighting – are critical for me being able to remember things and really grasp the concepts.
* I just realized how often I am saying concepts…oops!
If you are reading a book like my PMP Prep book, read it through multiple times.
The author of the book actually says this, but you probably need to read the book multiple times. For this book, you read it all the way through. Then you go back and take the practice tests in the book. After you identify your weak spots, you can review those sections to really grasp everything.
I have never studying like this before, so it’s a change, but I can see how this would really help you understand the processes and important information for an exam.
Post-It notes are your new best friend.
Oh post-its. I love me a good post-it note, and studying is no exception. I have been using these buggers to remind me where to find key pieces of information. Any time I find something important or that I don’t understand off the top of my head, I use a post-it note so that I can refer back to it quickly and easily.
Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to study too much at once.
I was so gun-ho when I started studying this book that I sort of burnt myself out. I can’t spend 2 hours ever day studying – it’s just not possible with work and having a life. I want to spend a little bit of time each day really grasping the concepts and understanding the principles. Sitting for 2 hours is hard to do when you work full time and try to have some sort of life. Take it piece by piece and you will slowly start to make it through that book!
While you are studying, reward yourself. Did you learn something new that you hadn’t grasped before? You get a piece of chocolate. Did you finally understand something after weeks of being clueless? You get Starbucks. Little rewards will keep you motivated and give you that little boost to keep going.
Studying can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be with these 10 easy steps!