How to Study for an Exam

This is where the rubber meets the road! Everybody has opinion on how to study, let’s hear yours! Leave a comment below.

Here’s what I do:

1. Assemble Materials

a. Gather all the reading material suggested by the latest COPAS publication TR-46 APA Accredited Information and Guidebook.

b. If available, download the appropriate O’Byrne’s Exam Guide and extract the files. In particular, locate the Reference Outline. It may be easiest to print it out.

2. Make a Plan/Overview

a. Re-create the Reference Outline on a spreadsheet (if you are complaining at this point about having to re-type data, quit now and just get an MBA, it’s easier).

b. Starting with the first reading assignment (one line of the outline), mark down the beginning and ending pages numbers and calculate the number of pages of assigned reading. This gives you a rough measure of the amount of reading and study time involved in each section.

c. Get an Overview! In effect, you will be thumbing through each page of the assigned reading. Pay attention to the subject headings in the reading as you thumb through. Yes, this is time consuming; it’s called “studying”! Don’t panic. You don’t have to understand it, but it may be helpful to spend a moment and consider what the possible subject may be about. Take your time.

d. Calculate minutes to study a page. After you have all page numbers written down, it’s possible to make a first calculation on how long it will take to study for the test. Place the calculation on each line of the study reference. Start with the assumption of eighty hours of total study time, deduct 15 hours for final review and clean up (covered below) this leaves you with the “core study time” of 65 hours.

(65 *60) / # pages = minutes study per page

e. Set benchmarks – now you know approximately how long it takes to study a section, set benchmark dates on each line for the completion of study on each section. It’s important to set goals, make them reasonable.

f. You now have a plan and a projected test date!

3. Start Core Study-Now, start at through the reading assignments:

a. Mark out a section of no more than five or ten pages. Place a bookmarker at the end. Make sure that you can complete the section in one sitting. (Sometimes I just go one or two pages at a time.)

b. Scan the pages of the section slowly to get a feel for the subject matter again.

c. Read the material, (I strongly suggest using a highlighter to mark out what you think may be an important part, it reinforces your learning). Write notes in the columns if it helps. Some folks find it better to read the material, and then re-read with the highlighter. Do whatever works for you. Continue until you reach the bookmarker.

d. Caution! Don’t get buried! If you don’t get a concept, don’t spend too much time on it, move on! The object here is to understand only 70-80% of the material. Make notes of what you don’t understand, you will come back later.

e. Repeat this steps a) – c) for the next 65 hours, moving a few pages at a time. Remember, don’t bite off more than you can accomplish in one sitting! Don’t get buried on one concept (like I tend to do!) Take your time. Keep track of your study hours on a spreadsheet, this is important for planning. Adjust your time projections as you go.

4. Review one section of the O’Byrne’s Exam Guide notesWhen you complete material contained in one entry in the Reference Outline (this is one line on the Exam Guide Reference Outline) locate the related O’Byrne’s Exam Guide Notes. (Page references are usually at the beginning of each section). Read the notes pertaining to the section you just studied. Make sure that you understand most (but not necessarily all) concepts in the notes and can relate them to the reading. Again, don’t get buried on something for too long, make a note and you can come back later. Keep moving!

5. Final Review – You should by this time understand 70-80% of what is going to be on the test. Not quite enough to assure a passing grade. Just a little more and you will have it! Allow about fifteen hours for review. (NOTE -If the O’Byrne’s Exam Guides are not available for your module, go over the highlighted markers in the reading). Read the O’Byrne’s Exam Guides three times as follows:

a. First Pass – Read the Exam Guide notes through slowly. Here, make a final try to work out any concepts you still don’t understand. It may help to memorize groups of data here; condensed notes make this much easier to see.

b. Second Pass – Read the Exam Guide notes again, slowly, but this time, just give up trying to understand new concepts. Some things you will just have to guess at!

c. Third Pass – The night before the test, read the Exam Guide notes again, skim the sections that are obvious, read the rest one last time.

6. TAKE THE TEST – Relax, you’re ready.

7. Debrief –After you take the test (and pass), immediately sit down with the exam guides notes and start through them one last time. Use a recorder (you have an Iphone don’t you?) and:

a. Just talk in general what subjects were covered on the test

b. What was unexpected

c. What subjects were not in the exam study guides

d. Unfair or unclear questions

e. Any other information that can help the next candidate.

f. Leave out specific question information that enables a student to answer a question without understanding the concept

g. When finished, make an entry s a new topic in the forums on the website so others can benefit from your experience.