Learning To Learn

In case you haven’t caught it on the show yet, I, Ron, am not a young guy. Matter of fact I’m smack dab in the mid 40s. So it has been awhile since I’ve been in school. Actually almost 18 years.

I did my time in college. Have two BA degrees, one in Mass Communications Radio/TV and one in Computer Science. And I did some time in a graduate program.

But I never learned how to learn.

Sounds a little strange. I really have no idea how to study. What does study even mean? I read what they tell me and then I try to remember it. When a test is near, I look back through the notes and the book. That’s studying isn’t it?

Well not if you want to be an A student. Which I wasn’t but now want to be.

So I decided it was time to learn. I mentioned it to my wife, a PhD English professor, and she suggested I check out the Study Hacks blog. I did and it looked cool, but it was also overwhelming. So I ordered the guys book, How to Be Straight-A Student and have been reading it. Here are a few tips that stand out in my mind.

Time Management

A students have good time management. Cal teaches a pretty simple system that involves a calendar and a daily to do list. You don’t have to have a big complicated system, but you need a system. If you are cramming right before a test, then you are doing it wrong. You should be keeping up with the work and preparing to study all along.

Notes from the Book

This was something that should have been obvious, but I never did before. Take notes from the readings. While you are reading create notes of the important stuff. This is so you don’t have to go back to the book when it comes time to create your study guide.

Oh, and highlighting doesn’t count. There is something visceral about actually writing something out that puts it more in your brain. I didn’t really memorize the Glascow Coma Scale until I started typing it up for my study guide.

You can also use your notes to follow along in class when the teacher is teaching the same material. Then would be a good time to highlight your notes when they say something is important.

Create a Study Guide

Before it comes time for your final studying for a test you need to create a study guide. I did this for my National Registry test and it helped a lot. A study guide is a new document that contains the important facts you need to know for the test, and sample questions you can use to prepare. I created a list of signs and symptoms, key vocabulary words, steps to CPR and Patient Assessment, etc. In my NR study guide I only made questions for CPR because I had JBLearning.com‘s practice tests to use instead.

Recall is Knowing

So now it is time to study. You pull out your study guide and start reading it over. How do you know you are done studying and have the material?

When you can recall it by memory.

You know you know the Glascow Coma Scale when you can write it out completely. You know you know pediatric two person CPR compression to breath ratios when you can say it without a multiple choice answer. You know you know APGAR when you can write it out. You know you know the rule of 9s when you can draw a stick figure and put the percentages on each part both adult and pediatric.

Those are the things that stand out to me about the book and I’d recommend it to anyone wanting to learn to read. I’ve started a new category on the blog for learning tips and there will be more as I learn more.

  • Christine Springfield

    Thanks, Ron! Great advice. I am studying for the NREMT-B test now and will definitely use your recommendations!

  • Wes

    “Those are the things that stand out to me about the book and I’d recommend it to anyone wanting to learn to read.” Ummmm…..how are they going to read it if they don’t know how to read? 🙂