By the time you’re actively studying for NBEO® Part 1, you’ve probably already figured out the study methods that work best for you and the ones that don’t.
Since the pool of information is a lot larger than standard course examinations, you may want to consider changing things up in order to study more effectively.
The most effective strategy I’ve encountered for this type of exam is called Active Recall.
It sounds fancy and complicated, but Active Recall is actually very simple. All it really means is that instead of re-reading material, you test yourself on topics at every step of your study process. This method is shown to be much more productive than going back and re-reading material over and over again!
So how do you use active recall? It’s actually quite simple. Though Active Recall is a general term, it can be incorporated in your current study routine in a few ways. Here are my favorite ways to use Active Recall for students studying for NBEO® Part 1 and beyond!
Closed-book recall: Have you ever read a chapter then felt like you had to read it again? Try testing yourself on material first. If you can, close the book/notes and summarize everything you remember, either out loud or on paper. You can also keep your book/notes open and look only at the headings to give you a clue on what you can test yourself on. Though you may feel like you don’t remember much, all of the pieces of information will build upon one another. That way when you’re going over the material a second time, you’ll know exactly what you missed the first time around.
Take notes: Many students take their own notes and study guides as they are going over lecture notes or reading textbooks. Next time, try to take your notes after you’re done reading, leaving gaps for things you don’t remember and coming back to them. You can do this one topic at a time or divide it however you’d like, but the key is to not be copying the material but recalling it and writing it down. You will immediately notice a difference in the amount of information you retain.
Ask questions: This concept goes back to the old Cornell note taking method. Instead of taking notes while you are reading, formulate the notes into question format. Then, go back and answer the questions when you are done, without looking back at the material. This simple method will help you recall even the most elaborate processes in the shortest amount of time.
Though tangible study materials such as textbooks, lecture notes, and powerpoint presentations are very important, don’t let them be a security blanket. Step away from them a few times a day to see if you’re able to recall the topics you’ve spent time reviewing. If not, use one of the methods above for effective recall!
~ Dr. Amadian