Study Habits

I have a major exam coming up on May 7th to become a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Therapist. I need the certification to be hired on permanent at my hospital as I am full time PRN at the moment. So to pass this exam I have to look at material from my bachelors, something I obtained 6 years ago. This means I have to study.

So true!

I suck at studying.

The problem I have with studying is that I get bored easily and I have the attention span of a gnat. I can’t focus and I get off track. This is usually what goes through my mind during a study session:

” Time to study for my Recreation Exam! Leisure battery diagnostic…ohhh I totally need to get my car battery checked! And I need to wash my car. My car is a mess. OMG what is that smell? Is that a cheeseburger? I totally want a cheeseburger.  With bacon. I need to buy bacon for breakfast tomorrow. I think I’ll have an omelet with breakfast. Maybe a chicken salad for lunch. Steak and mushrooms for sure for dinner. Blueberry peanut butter smoothie for dessert. If I keep eating dessert, I won’t make my weight goal by June. I need to buy new jeans, these are getting too loose. Yay for loose jeans. I’m so glad I started running. What a great way to recreate!  Oh crap…I’m supposed to be focusing!!! Okay…leisure diagnostic battery…my cell phone battery is dying…

This stream of thought usually happens every ten or so minutes while I am studying. Add having access to the internet, television and having my cell phone on hand…I barely get any studying done at all. I am shocked that I managed to graduate with honors with my study habits.

I’ve tried different methods of studying and the only thing that  seems to work for me is cramming. Since passing this exam means getting hired on permanently, I can’t do that. So I have to study in advance. This has been a nightmare.  For me studying happens in stages, and by the time I am done with it all…I want to set fire to my books:

Stage 1: Study at home.

Should have listened to Boromir...

Never works. I find there are too many distractions and it’s too easy to find something else to do. It’s strange, when I know I have to study, I get the biggest urge to clean my house. After three hours of cleaning and inhaling bleach, I decide to watch TV. This is the only time I find those judge shows interesting. Finally, I get bored by TV, pick up my books, attempt to study again and somehow slip into a three hour nap probably induced by all the bleach I just inhaled. Studying at home has failed. Time to move on…

Stage 2: Library. 

I'd actually study if my library looked like this.

There is an awesome library literally walking distance from my house. It’s got a great view of the bird sanctuary, awesome seating and free wifi. However, I’ve found that studying in a library is worse that studying at home. It’s too quiet and there are too many books available that I actually want to read.  I end up checking out Stephen King novels and chatting on Facebook. Then, the seats are too comfortable and I fall asleep. I find myself being poked awake by some librarian because I’ve left a massive puddle of drool on my arm chair, and it’s closing time.

Stage 3: Starbucks

Because I keep falling asleep, I figure that adding some caffeine may help in my study efforts. Hooray! I can finally stay awake…time to bust out some notes. I start working on an outline.  According to my friends,this method is supposed to help you map out what you need to study. A lot of my friends in school swear by making outlines of their study material so I figured I’d give it a shot. After an hour, this is usually what my outlines end up looking like:

Psychology is mentioned in there somewhere...

I blame the caffeine. Also my ADD racing thoughts have now kicked in. In my three hours at Starbucks, I’ve managed to map out my running schedule, create my weekly diner menu and I’ve finished 12 drawings on Draw Something, on top of the doodles on my note page.  People watching has become more interesting than studying and I’ve managed to spend 50 bucks on lattes. Time to abandon Starbucks.

Stage 4: Find someone, anyone,  to study with.

At this point I have decided that I am simply not disciplined enough to study on my own. My attempt at studying has left me with a huge caffeine high, art work, a dinner menu, training schedule and 50 bucks worth of lattes. It is now time to seek out others.

I find a study partner…hooray! We make plans to meet each week, gather material and quiz each other until the day of the test. Perfect plan.

Hooray! I'm a responsible student!

Six weeks later…

Study partner and I have become great friends. We have now made plans to check out  a few sporting events and catch a few movies. We spend most of our time drooling over food, talking about work and inquiring about our dating lives. Yay, I’ve made a new friend! The downside…I’ve managed to study one chapter in my book, my outline has more doodles than notes, and I’ve only created 4 note cards. I’ve failed again. I decide to return to my tried and true method of procrastination and enjoy my time with my new friend.

Stage 5: Screw responsibility and cram.

It’s three days before the test. For some odd reason, I become super focused and every waking hour involves me studying for my exam. I forgo sleeping, eating, socializing just so I can devote all my time to studying. I force everyone I see to quiz me on my exam material, I send my professor numerous emails asking about different concepts on the exam and I call in sick to work just so I can give myself more study time.

On the night before my exam, I become so frustrated that I waited so long to really study that I set fire to all my books and notes. I decide that the flame is big enough to make smores. I devour five or six smores, pass out from the excess sugar and wake up an hour before my test. I rush to my testing site, sign in for the exam and somehow manage to regurgitate everything in my brain. There are a few answers I can’t figure out, so I resort to trying to charm the test proctor with my wittiness:

This works...I've tried it.

Test proctor looks at me like I am nuts and tells me to erase my art work.  Apparently, SOME people just don’t appreciate fine art. I leave the test, certain that I failed.

Stage 6: Wait and cry…a lot.

Probably should haven't written this for an answer...

In this stage, I drive everyone nuts telling them how I’m sure I failed the exam. I’m certain that I’ll have to find a new career. I cry over my test often and eat a lot of chocolate. I watch my mailbox and email like a hawk, jumping at every email that has the word “Recreation” in the title. I nearly break my computer each time I get an email stating ” We are calculating your results.” You said that six weeks ago!! A simple pass or fail will do.

Stage 7: I pass the test.

Never doubted this for a second 🙂

Rarely have I ever completely bombed a test…unless it’s math related. Lucky for me, the only math on this exam are a few questions about stats, so there is a 90 percent chance I pass everything else. Once this test is done…I get my life back. I get to boast about how procrastination works, and how studying in advance is foolish.

Moral of the story: Always procrastinate. Sure  you go crazy from lack of eating and sleeping, but hey at least you pass. And, you gain a friend to boost your social life. Win- win. 

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