Find What Works for You – For me Repetition

2017 – 2018 Scholarship Entry – Test Preparation Essay
Test Preparation Inc. Scholarship

Jevon Westerbeek
Calgary, Alberta

 

When it comes to studying and preparing for exams, tests and quizzes, I have developed not one but several strategies and methods which work best for me and my learning style. I understand not everybody has the same tactics and approaches, however, the ones that have worked for me have equated to success and achievement.

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Throughout my childhood, I never really had an idea of what studying meant. I was always a blatantly average academic student, a “C student” you could say. Throughout elementary, junior high and eventually high school, I never knew there were smarter and more effective ways to study and prepare for exams. I was always a hard worker, I continually did my homework and did my best to “study” for upcoming exams. My idea of reviewing was trying to memorize each moment of my notes and see if I could recall them come test time. Most of the time, I still ended up with average marks. I was constantly happy with a 70 % as were my parents. There was a time in my life where a 70 % equaled an A+ in my books and although my parents were very supportive and happy with this, I always wondered why I couldn’t just be “one of the smart kids.” Sometimes I thought to myself, “I’m just not as smart as them, they’re naturally gifted when it comes to school. I have other talents.” This mentality was one that I came to accept, one that I never stressed too much over, but still bothered me. I have always wanted to succeed in whatever I did, and I began to become aware that like most things, all it takes is practice, mindfulness and I would be able to achieve my goals.

After I graduated from high school and became aware of what intrigued me, I decided to enter a paramedic program. My mother was a nurse for 30 plus years and emergency medicine had always attracted me. I knew going into the program, it was extremely heavy in anatomy, pathophysiology and pharmacology. I was also paying for my own tuition, out of pocket. If I didn’t succeed in the classroom, I might as well have been throwing my money into the garbage. I had to develop some strategies and began doing research and reading books on test preparation, study methods and memorization techniques. I even began watching videos online for other practises. The most useful technique I found while conducting this research was the emphasis on “do what works for you.” I have always been a very visual learner. I must see and then preform it physically to learn it and later master it. Using this method, I began writing my notes in colors. Every other page, or category, I would change the color. This technique is very useful when I study medications and drugs. I will usually write the category of medication, such as pain medications, in a certain color. For example, Morphine, Fentanyl, Ketorolac and Ketamine are medications which can be used for treating pain. I would write out all the information for these medications in red. In contrast, I would write antiemetic medications, Gravol, Maxeran, Zofran, in blue and so on and so forth. This strategy has been very effective when recalling which medications belong to certain classes. This strategy could be used in a variety of different areas of study.

“Repetition is the mother of skill.” I have always loved this quote because it relates to so many facets of life. I remember hearing this quote when I played football and to a greater extent, sports, my entire life. The more you practice, the better you get. It’s that simple. The human brain has an incredible ability to adapt and prosper when constantly forced to repeat an action. I have also implemented this idea into test preparation. Instead of constantly trying to memorize every word from my notes, I highlight the important bits and self-repeat them to myself out loud. I don’t move on to the next section until I fully understand the concept. I also developed the idea of teaching someone else, or something else (my wall) the notion which has also increased my ability to understand what I am being tested on.  How to memorize

The third, and one of my favorite study skills is the use of a pneumonic. I use a website called “pneumonic generator” and it is incredibly effective for me. Sometimes, it is necessary to memorize certain things while studying and I have found using a pneumonic the most effective strategy. This has been very beneficial when studying pharmacology and having to memorize indications, contraindications and side effects of specific medications. I remember during my first emergency training course, we were required to verbalize the mandatory set of vital signs we needed to gain during our scenario testing. The list included; Skin (color and condition), level of consciousness, eyes (pupil reaction), respirations, pulse, temperature, blood pressure, blood glucose level, pulse oximetry reading. The pneumonic I came up with was “SLERP, THE BEST BEER POSSIBLE.” The first phrase “SLERP” represents the first five vital signs and the first letters of the remaining phrases correspond to the remainder. The more extravagant and ridiculous, the better, and this silly but effective pneumonic still pops into my brain to this day.

Using these simple, real and highly useful strategies for test preparation and studying has helped me vastly during my first year of university. I have gone from being that “average C student” in high school who at one time thought that’s all I could ever be, to finishing with a 3.8 GPA and passing these strategies off to my peers. Once I understood how to study, to study smarter, not harder, it brought me more success and joy when it comes to preparing for exams and gave me more free time to spend with family and friends. Anyone in any program can use these techniques to succeed, all it takes is time and practice which will eventually breed success.

 

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