“I have failed once, and don’t know what I am doing wrong. Please help!
This is a message I have received many times. You study hard: read the books, attend an all-day workshop, answer long lists of practice questions and get most of them right. Then, feeling confident, you take the test and “Oh no!” all that effort wasn’t enough to pass.
“I am lost, I don’t know what I need to do to pass.” What do I need to do differently? How can I learn all this stuff?
Well, it is true that there are many different kinds of learners; each person brings different professional experiences to the table, some people are “good test-takers”, others not. But what do educators tell us about maximizing our ability to learn, memorize and apply knowledge? Here are three useful concepts:
1 – Active learning works better than passive learning. Sitting in a lecture hall, listening and taking notes isn’t as effective as when you are actively involved, for example, learning the material with a small group and then standing up and teaching your part of the material to the others. Don’t just listen, “do it”.
2 – Get specific feedback from a teacher who knows you and your work. Learn from the teacher’s example, then do it her way. You can benefit from a careful observer who can help you figure out exactly what you are doing wrong: not reading the question carefully enough, missing key words in the question, second-guessing yourself, overthinking the question, going too fast, going too slow, etc.
3 – Repetition, repetition, repetition! Discover the specific number of cycles you need to repeat an idea or concept and be able to sucessfully lodge it in the front of your brain where you can retrieve it easily. Learning and retention are improved when you not only look at it, but “See it, say it and write it”.
Okay, so you are older, have been out of school for a long time. Doesn’t matter, may take you longer to get it, more cycles of repetition, but you can do it!