Opinion Stage

Sunday, June 16, 2013



by Howard Richman


Applicable for Review in Civil Engineering Board Examinations

Civil Engineering Board Exam Review Tips

1.    Study in Short, Frequent Sessions

It has been proven that short bursts of concentration repeated frequently are much more effective than one long session. The brain needs recovery and recharging time for “protein synthesis”. The rest periods are when your brain assimilates your effort. To sit and study for hours is not only boring; it creates fatigue, stress, and distraction. You cannot learn if you are fatigued, stressed and distracted.

2.    Take Guilt-Free Days of Rests

This follows the same principle as above but on a longer daily time cycle. The reason for resting is to refresh oneself. However, if you feel guilty (“I really should be studying”) then your precious rest period has been used to create more stress. The brain will not absorb new data if it is stressed. On days off from studying, really enjoy yourself and do not feel bad about not studying.

3.    Honor Your Emotional State

Do not study if you are tired, angry, distracted, or in a hurry. When the brain is relaxed, it is liked a sponge and it naturally absorbs data without effort. If you are emotionally stressed, your brain literally repels data. Forcing yourself to sit and study when your mind is on other things is a complete waste of time!

4.    Review the Same Day

When you learn something new, try to go over the points the same day. If you wait a few days and then make efforts to review the material, it will seem much less familiar. However, a quick review later in the day will tend to cement the information into your brain so that the next “official” study session, you will recognize it and will seem easy.

5.    Observe the Natural Learning Sequence

When you study, if you try first to grasp the big picture and then fill in the details, you often have a more likely chance of success.

6.    Use Exaggeration

Why does a baseball batter warm up by swinging two or three bats? Why do runners sometimes strap lead weights to their legs? In both cases, exaggeration during practice makes the final result seem easy. This concept can be applied to studying anything.

7.    Prepare Your Study Environment

If you require certain elements in your environment to help you study, try to always make these a priority. For example, do you need special lighting, silence, music, privacy, available snacks, etc.? Pay attention to what works for you and repeat it each time you study for best success.

8.    Respect “Brain Fade”

It is normal for the brain to have an attrition rate and to forget things. This does not mean that you are stupid! Instead of getting mad about this fact, you should expect it and deal with it accordingly. See your brain as depositing layers of knowledge. As you place more information on top, the lower levels become older and less available to your immediate recall. The trick here is simply to review. “Brain fade” is completely normal. (Unless you are gifted with a photographic memory, which is extremely rare.)

9.    Create a Study Routine

Generally, if you schedule certain times of the day to study, you will get into a routine and accomplish more.

10. Set Reasonable Goals

One of the main reasons people do not reach their goals is because they set them too high. If you set goals that are manageable, even if they seem too simple, you get in the habit of accomplishing them and gradually you can set higher goals. Also, recognize the difference between long-term and short-term goals. Set your vision on the long-term dream, but your day-to-day activity should be focused exclusively on the short-term, enabling steps.

11. Avoid the Frustration Enemy

Ironically, the quicker the person’s nervous system, the faster they learn. Yet, this fast nervous system also works overtime in being self-critical, so they are the ones who always think they aren’t going fast enough! In contrast, the “Type B” less intense person who learns slower yet is more self-accepting, ends up ultimately learning the material in a shorter period of time. This is because he/she doesn’t waste energy blocking, getting upset, and thinking that they’re not good enough – they simply keep moving forward at a slower (but unblocked) pace.


About Howard Richman

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