Polish Your Study Habits

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As you prepare for certification, you undoubtedly have a lot of material to work through. This might include books, study guides, documentation, practice exams, simulations and more. For many, study habits are developed early on—in grade school, or at least by high school. But what if you never learned to study properly? How are you going to work through all those cert-prep materials and pass the test?




Here are a few helpful hints.




The first thing to do is figure out where you’re going to study. If your boss allows part of your workday for this activity, this is decided for you—you’ll study at your desk. But it’s more likely that you’re going to be working through those materials on your own time, so you need to figure out the best location to study, a place that will not keep you from concentrating on the task at hand. For some, this means a noisy coffee shop, where there’s enough noise to drown out any single voice. For others, this might mean a quiet corner of the local library. Only you know what situations aid your concentration best. You just need to be sure that distractions will be kept to a minimum.




Time of day is also an important factor. I know that I can’t concentrate very well in the afternoon, but in the early morning and later in the evening, it’s no problem. Maybe for you, waking up takes six hours, and you need to study after noon. You know best what time of day you are able to concentrate, so try to plan your study time accordingly.




Now you need to get organized. Remember I said distractions must be kept to a minimum. That means you don’t want to get 10 minutes into your work and realize you forgot one key book. Taking time away from study to search for missing materials is no good. Make sure you gather everything you will need and bring it with you to your study area. This does not include your cell phone, by the way. Turn the phone off during study time.




Finally, you’re ready to study. So get to it! Try to maintain your concentration, and be sure to give your eyes a break from reading every 10 minutes or so. Since I spend most of my day reading, I try to take eye-exercise breaks. You can do it too: Look away from whatever you’re reading and concentrate on a point about 10 feet away. Then focus on a spot 20 feet away. Now look up and down, side to side. If you don’t give your eyes a break, your ability to concentrate on what you’re reading will start to fade.




Good luck out there!

Emily Hollis is associate editor for Certification Magazine. She can be reached at ehollis@certmag.com. 

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