Exams are always stressful, but taking your medical licensing exam is a stress like none you have ever known. This isn’t a test you can just breeze your way through. It takes months of careful preparation to make sure that you pass this test and get your license. There is obviously no way to avoid stress, during exam time, but there are ways that you can lower your stress levels, and be better prepared when it comes time to take the test.
Train your Memory Medical exams are about memorizing a lot of information and ability to quickly retrieve this information during the exam. The area of your memory responsible for short term information storage and retrieval is called working memory. The good news is that working memory capacity and retrieval speed could be improved. There is a number of memory training techniques and you should choose one based on your budget and time commitment. One popular among medical and law students is the Cogmed memory training and many take it a few months prior to licensing exams. Cogmed boosts working memory capacity and it also helps with concentration and attention, which are essential when preparing for exams. Designed by European neuroscientists in late 90s, Cogmed it is commonly used by psychologists and psychiatrists to help students with ADHD function in par with their non-ADHD peers. There is a lot of academic research on Cogmed and, while some researchers disagree regarding the long term effects of this training, there is a consensus on immediate results: an average rate of improvement for 6 months period after training is close to 80%.
Get Rid of Distractions You need to have peace and quiet when you are trying to study for any exam. While you may think that you study better with rock music on, it is actually a huge distraction. If you feel that you absolutely must have music on in the background, choose classical music. Research studies by Stanford University researchers found that listening to classical music helps with concentration and comprehension, yet listening to pop, rock or rap makes you perform worse. While you’re at it, turn off the mobile devices, and log out of Facebook and other social networking sites. It is just too tempting to leave your studies to see what is going on. Get rid of anything that is going to make you lose your focus on what you need to be focused on.
Do Practice Tests Using flash cards isn’t just for grade school kids. Flash cards and other learning tools are great for students at any level of study. The more you test yourself prior to exam, the more you are going to remember during the exam.
Eat Brain Food When you are following a well-balanced diet, your brain is getting the nutrients it needs. There are so called "brain foods" that stimulate your brain activity and make you focused and alert. You will have better study sessions when you are eating brain-friendly foods.
Additional Tips :
Switch it Up – Don’t always study in the same place. That can get boring and draining after a while. Have study sessions in different rooms. Try different places, including the library, your own room, and even a quiet restaurant.
Don’t Cram – If you try to cram a lot of studying into a few hours, you are not going to retain much. Instead, study for 20-50 minute periods, with plenty of breaks between study sessions.
Exercise – Cardio training can help improve your memory, and there are all kinds of fun exercises you can do, including dancing.
Manage Your Time – You need to balance your schedule so you have time for everything in your life, including school, work, family, and most important, study. When you have a set schedule that is balanced, you will have more time to study and retain what you are studying.
No All-Nighters – If you are like just about every other student in the world, you have pulled an all-nighter or two. But, this isn’t something you should get into the habit of doing. When you do this, you are not getting the sleep that your brain and your body need in order to be completely functional. You will not be able to study as well, and you won’t be retaining much of what you are studying. Get a good night’s sleep every night, and you will perform better every day.
Hopefully, these tips will help you to ace your medical exam. Good luck!
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