There are many ways to approach studying , just as there are many different types of material to study. However, the tips that follow should work well for the type of material covered on this certification exam.
Although individuals vary in the ways they learn information, some basic principles of learning apply to everyone. You should adopt some study strategies that take advantage of these principles. One of these principles is that learning can be broken into various depths. Recognition (of terms, for example) exemplifies a surface level of learning in which you rely on a prompt of some sort to elicit recall. Comprehension, or understanding (of the concepts behind the terms, for example), represents a deeper level of learning. The ability to analyze a concept and apply your understanding of it in a new way represents a further depth of learning.
Your learning strategy should enable you to know the material at a level or two deeper than mere recognition. This will help you do well on the exams. You will know the material so thoroughly that you can easily handle the recognition-level types of questions used in multiple-choice testing. You will also be able to apply your knowledge to solve new problems.
One strategy that can lead to deep learning includes preparing an outline that covers all the objectives and subobjectives for the exam you are working on. Then you should delve a bit further into the material and include a level or two of detail beyond the stated objectives and subobjectives for the exam. Then you should expand the outline by coming up with a statement of definition or a summary for each point in the outline.
An outline provides two approaches to studying. First, you can study the outline by focusing on the organization of the material. Work your way through the points and subpoints of your outline with the goal of learning how they relate to one another. For example, be sure that you understand how each of the main objective areas is similar to and different from the others. Then do the same thing with the subobjectives; be sure that you know which subobjectives pertain to each objective area and how they relate to one another.
Next, you can work through the outline, focusing on learning the details. You should memorize and understand terms and their definitions, facts, rules and strategies, advantages and disadvantages, and so on. In this pass through the outline, you should attempt to learn detail rather than the big picture (the organizational information that you worked on in the first pass through the outline).
Research has shown that attempting to assimilate both types of information at the same time seems to interfere with the overall learning process. Separate your studying into these two approaches, and you will perform better on the exam.
The process of writing down and defining objectives, subobjectives, terms, facts, and definitions promotes a more active learning strategy than merely reading the material. In human information-processing terms, writing forces you to engage in more active encoding of the information. Simply reading over the information exemplifies more passive processing.
Next, you should determine whether you can apply the information you have learned by attempting to create examples and scenarios on your own. You should think about how or where you could apply the concepts you are learning. Again, you should write down this information so that you can process the facts and concepts in a more active fashion.
The hands-on nature of the Step By Step tutorials, the Guided Practice Exercises, and the exercises at the ends of the chapters provide further active learning opportunities that will reinforce concepts as well.
Finally, you should also follow common-sense practices when studying. You should study when you are alert, reduce or eliminate distractions, take breaks when you become fatigued, and so on.
Pretesting enables you to assess how well you are learning. One of the most important aspects of learning is what has been called meta-learning. Meta-learning has to do with realizing when you know something well or when you need to study some more. In other words, you recognize how well or how poorly you have learned the material you are studying.
For most people, this can be difficult to assess objectively. Practice tests are useful because they objectively reveal what you have learned and what you have not learned. You should use this information to guide review and further study. Developmental learning takes place as you cycle through studying, assessing how well you have learned, reviewing, and assessing again until you feel that you are ready to take the exam.
You might have noticed the practice exam included in this book. You should use it as part of the learning process. The PrepLogic software on the CD-ROM also provides a variety of ways to test yourself before you take the actual exam. By using the practice exams in the book and on the CD-ROM, you can take an entire practice test and gauge from your performance on each practice exam what areas you have mastered and what areas you still need to work on. As you complete the practice exams, one effective study method is to take notes on the items you missed as you move through the explanations of the answers. This is active learning on your part, and with it you are more likely to learn and remember correct answers.