I encountered two bumps in the road as I started studying for my CA real estate license. One: my brain doesn’t work as smoothly in business mode as it does in creative mode, so absorbing information as soon as I start reading it was hard for me. Two: taking tests gives me a lot of anxiety. I needed to combat both of these head on and early on so that I could make the most of these online courses and learn as much as I could before taking the final exam. I implemented several devices to help me efficiently study my three courses. The foundation for my study approach was deciding to read the books fully. I could have studied only the quizzes and done ok on each exam, but I wanted to learn more than just what the quizzes focused on. Once that decision had been made, I chose a few other tools and began studying!
- Extensive highlighting: I used a variety of colors to help draw my focus to particular pieces of information and to keep me engaged in what I was reading. I highlighted definitions, important information, information I found interesting, and things I didn’t understand.
- Heavy use of Post-it Notes: For material that I found especially interesting or information I didn’t understand, I used two different colored post-it notes to remind myself to go back and re-read certain parts, or to be able to more easily find those things I deemed interesting.
- Sticking to a schedule: I am a creature of habit, routines, schedules and lists. To help keep myself on track I created a study schedule that I adhered to fairly strictly. My goal was to have completed three quizzes over two days per week. Each quiz covers between 4-8 chapters, so that meant reading 12-24 chapters in two days. It was challenging, but not impossible. There have been a few times that I have gotten behind on my schedule and gotten a bit frustrated, but it hasn’t been impossible to catch back up. I also added a buffer week into each course schedule so that if I did get behind it wouldn’t affect my overall schedule.
- Additional studying with flashcards: Rob introduced me to an app called Anki. They have a special system for studying flash cards that has helped me tremendously. I put each quiz question on the “front” of a card and each answer on the “back”. If a question was easy, I marked it so that I wouldn’t see it in the set again for three+ days. If a question was harder for me, I marked it to return to the deck in 1 minute, 10 minutes or 1 day. Sorting by what I knew solidly and what I needed to better ingrain in my brain was a much better way for me to study than traditional flash cards.
- Not utilizing a crutch: The quizzes and final course exams are all open-book. I opted to not take any of them open book to force myself to learn the material without having to depend on the book. The licensing exam is not open book so I figured it was better for me to start from the beginning without using that crutch so that the final exam wouldn't be a shock.
Highlighting while I am reading turned out to be the most beneficial of all the tricks. When I don’t highlight, I find that I don’t retain nearly as much information as when I am on top of my highlighting game. A few of my low quiz scores have proven that highlighting is not something I can be lax about. The final exam with be the true test, of course, but if I keep applying these techniques to my final course I'll be able to walk into it confidently.
What are your tried and true study tricks?