Career / Career Progression

How to Study for an Exam in Less Time

by Team Nuggets
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Published on November 27, 2019

Certification exams are arguably the most important stepping stones to a career in IT. As such, preparing for exams takes a lot of time and effort. However, if you're pressed for time, you may encounter difficulties getting the most out of your study experience.

The main method involves setting a schedule, short and intense study sessions, eliminating multitasking, the three-step approach, knowing how you learn best and choosing conducive spaces

We all have different obligations at home, work, and other aspects of life — which can interfere with preparing for an IT certification exam. Here's how you can prepare for exams in less time. Use the following advice to study smarter, not harder.

Schedule Short, Intense Study Sessions

Perhaps you don't want to dedicate too much time studying due to work and life obligations. Or maybe you simply don't envision being cooped up in a quiet space as a key to success on IT cert exams. It's entirely possible to avoid super-long study sessions during your exam prep.

You can save time by studying smarter, not harder. Achieve this by scheduling shorter, more intense study sessions. Shorter study sessions help your brain better process information. They are also more manageable for people who can't dedicate a lot of time to studies. Set a schedule, even if you are only studying 30 minutes a week. Even if you cram as your test day approaches, it's much better to plan ahead and have a solid foundation of shorter study sessions than to leave everything to the last minute and risk not having time to study at all.

Space Out Your Study Sessions

As mentioned previously, the manner in which you use your study time is more important than how long you study. A few shorter study sessions can be more effective and less time-consuming than marathon sessions. Especially if you make them routine. With that in mind, space out your studying over several short periods of time – several days, or several weeks, for instance. It's most effective to study daily for shorter periods of time because the material remains fresh in your mind.

The overall time spent on study sessions that are 30 minutes to an hour every day for several weeks may be the same or even less than a couple of marathon study sessions. However, you will learn and retain the information much better in the long term, which will be essential to performing well on your exams.

Use a 3-Step Approach to Solidify Concepts

Be strategic about your IT exam studying and use the following three-step approach to make sure that you maximize time spent studying: previewing, studying, and checking your understanding.

First, preview the information you will be studying. This could involve studying in a birds-eye-view fashion in order to get an idea of the big picture concepts. Second, go back and study individual concepts in more detail.

Finally, give yourself ample time to review all the material you have studied. Using this three-step process can help ensure that you truly know and understand the concepts needed to pass your upcoming IT certification exam.

Don't Multitask While Studying

Scientific research indicates that multitasking does not actually improve performance and can actually negatively impact exam results.

The end result of multitasking is that it distracts your attention when you should be focusing your full attention on your study materials. Therefore, eliminate distractions to allow you to be fully present and engaged during your study sessions.

You can use apps and browser extensions to help you limit the time you spend on various websites each day. Turn off your cell phone while studying or quiet your phone's notifications, so you will not be tempted to distract yourself with texting or playing games. Let people know you are studying so they will be mindful of your time and space.

Determine How You Learn Best

You may be a night owl or an early bird. Perhaps you like to study at home rather than in a coffee shop. Maybe you prefer learning via textbook over video. Or you rely on a wide variety of study materials rather than one or two. Everybody learns differently — and that's okay.

Whatever you prefer, it's important to be aware of yourlearning style to create the most optimal study conditions for you. From your physical setting to the type of materials you use, create a study environment that promotes maximal concentration and learning for you.

Just because other learners rave about a resource doesn't mean it will work for you. Before you start studying for certification, figure out what resources work best for you. That way, when/if you have to pick up the pace, you'll be well-equipped.

Create a Study Space Where You Can Get In the Zone

Once you identify your study preferences, use them to create an ideal study space. For example, if you get distracted by your home workspace, pack up some essentials (laptop, notes, etc.) and head to a coffee shop to study.

If you find the library to be too quiet of an environment and prefer to study with the television blaring in the background, you may want to hunker down in your house with all of your study materials. One benefit of staying at home is that it can be easier to set up a home lab.

Remember, your ideal study space depends on your preferences and what works for you — not what you think the ideal study space should be.

The Bottom Line

Preparing for an exam in two weeks with short, regular study sessions can be less time-consuming and more effective than one or two marathon study sessions. So, creating a schedule and studying at least 30 minutes a day may be the smart bet for preparing for an exam — faster and more effectively.


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