Forget Cramming! Test Preparation That Really Works [Part 4 of a Series]

While many future massage therapists are looking to get out of the corporate ideology and work environment, the old corporate adage is true for going back to school, “Failure to plan is planning to fail.” This article will incorporate many different strategies and ideas designed to help the busy adult learner achieve academic success.

 

No Excuses

Let’s address the reality of going back to school and everything it will include for you as a student. Adult learners bring many different things to the table every time they go to class, whether it is work stress, family issues, money problems, nervousness about school, or other issues.

The key to success in any endeavor is to be prepared. Successful businesses always begin with a plan, and that same idea applies to students going to massage school. Create a plan of success for your academic efforts and think of school as your new (or second, third or fourth) job. Incorporate positive strategies to assist in organizing yourself as you add school success to an already busy life.

The main excuses for not doing well academically are: “I just didn’t have time to study”; “I just don’t understand the material”; “I just can’t do it”; or “There was too much to study.” Successful people don’t have time or energy to waste on excuses. The goal is to provide you with several strategies so you won’t ever have to use these (and other) excuses as you return to school.

Several areas are most important in preparing yourself to succeed in the classroom environment. The following will be discussed in detail:

  • Organization and time management
  • In-class learning
  • Daily study system
  • Test preparation

To read “Going Back to School Part 1: Organization,” click here. To read “Going Back to School Part 2: In-Class Learning,” click here. To read “Going Back to School Part 3: Daily Study System,” click here.

 

test preparation

Test Preparation

Imagine you are teaching. What questions would you ask on a test? What was the focus of your studies and class lectures? Create your own study guides by writing questions and answers as you read or study with those questions in mind.

Make a study game using those questions: On one side of index cards write the answer, on the other side write the question. Shuffle the cards, and place them on a table with the question side up. Look at the first question and try to answer it, and so on. Another option is to create these cards, hole punch the top left corner of each card and attach the cards to a key ring, so you can use the cards as a study guide when you have time.

Read the textbook and understand the material; do your best to focus on understanding the material. Don’t take notes during the first reading session, or you will most likely just rewrite information and not understand what you read.

Review and re-read the material by locating main ideas as well as important points and terms. Context clues, or how the book is written, will assist in helping you find the main points in the text: words in bold, italics or in a different color are usually important.

Review your notes and compare with any textbook you use, and make sure you understand the information. Take good notes during exam reviews, especially when the teacher leads the review. Good instructors will want you to do well, as they see your success as a reflection of their teaching ability.

Assess the information you need to know, so you can test yourself on the material. Don’t wait until the last minute; studying should not begin the day before the test, but much earlier during scheduled study times. Help yourself by reviewing early in small amounts over a period of time to give your brain time to learn the material.

Conduct short review sessions every day, break up the information into manageable amounts and study when you are alert.

 

Taking a Test

Be well-rested on test day. Being tired can affect your test performance in a negative way. Be on time and prepared with what you need to take the test. Arriving late and frazzled will not help your test grade. Listen to the instructions of the teacher as they are given, and make sure to read directions carefully. Don’t stress. You should have learned the information in class and through your study materials, and you should do well.

When taking a test, read questions and look for clue words like best or most, as they will steer you toward the correct answer. Always read the entire question and always read all of the answers before choosing your answer—one answer may be best, though another may seem correct. Be careful in your selection.

 

group of happy students

Don’t Fail to Plan—Plan to Succeed

The bottom line is the more prepared you are to succeed, the better off you will do in school. Organize yourself, schedule study times, create your study system and you will have success. Think of school as your second job; make it a priority and success will happen in the classroom.

Don’t fall into the “failure to plan is planning to fail” category—have a strategy, stay disciplined, take responsibility and be successful!

About the Author

William Fee is a lifelong professional educator with bachelor's degrees from Monmouth University in elementary education and history, and holds teaching certificates for kindergarten through eighth grade and social studies in the state of New Jersey. A 1995 graduate of the Somerset School of Massage Therapy, Fee also worked in the massage field and in massage education with the Somerset School of Massage Therapy from 1999 to 2006, where he was the director of admission at the school. He is currently the founder of an education and training company, All Star Education and Training, which has created an online professional learning community for the learning of anatomy and physiology at betterpostureschool.com.