Friday, October 30, 2015

Study plan, selling your books for more than you paid for them!!

After passing, you should plan to sell your review material on eBay or Amazon, and you should make back a considerable portion of the cost! 

Interested?  Just leave a comment below about whether or not you used this study plan, if it worked for you, and a request for re-sale information.  I will send it out as soon as I can!

Note: The links in this post are affiliate links and I get a small commission if you make a purchase. 
Copyrighted 2015, N. Sturgill, FNP 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Study plan, intensive study of the CDs.

13.  After graduation, dedicate 3-4 days to go through the CDs of the review course while taking notes in a notebook or in the manual.  The CDs are recorded from a 8 hour a day, 3 day seminar, so it will take you at least 3-4 days to complete them.  These days do not have to be consecutive, maybe 2 days one week and 2 days the next week, or one day a week for 4 weeks. 

 Pretend that you are going to the seminar, take notes, study straight through, and take breaks every 50 minutes or so. This is dedicated listening, not like the listening you have been doing all along. Put in your earbuds at the Starbucks (you can get free refills on coffee if you use their app) and focus on listening, on taking notes, getting a drink, peeing, and then starting over.  Study for at least a three hour session each time, but never more than 6 hours total.  Continue to review your flashcards at least 15 minutes a day. 

14.  You should have graduated by now.  You need to continue to review the flashcards every day for at least 15 minutes and in addition one day a week dedicated to answering the questions for the fourth time. Do 100 questions on those days until you have completed both books for the fourth time.  Look at your scores.  If you are in the mid to high 90% you are probably ready for boards.  Schedule your test and pass! 

If you are not ready, continue with the flashcards and retake the questions a fifth time, or a sixth time.  What ever it takes for you to get a mastery level of the information in the questions.  Remember you are not memorizing the answers, you are seeking to understand the rationale behind the question.  I did not have one single exam question on my boards that was like or almost like a practice question.  But I was prepared for the exam and passed the first time with this process. 

Next post, how to sell your material for more than what you paid for them! 

BTW, if you do decide to attend a live seminar, consider taking notes in a notebook or on large post-it-notes.  Why? You'll get more money for the manual if it is unmarked (I did make a correction or two) when you sell it. Also consider purchasing the CDs for the extra $100 or so - you can resell them with your manual for even more money.  The bundle will sell (current year) for anywhere from $200 to $300, depending on the time of the year.

Next step: selling your review materials.

Note: The links in this post are affiliate links and I get a small commission of you use them. 

Copyrighted 2015, N. Sturgill, FNP 

Study plan, reviewing your weaknesses

12. Honestly, this is probably the most crucial part of the plan, reviewing your progress and identifying areas of weakness.  

Ok, so you should have been through all questions at least two times (maybe three) before this step.  And you have probably graduated by now - congratulations!

You should have some free time now, no need for clinical studies, no need to study for school exams.  Now you will go back and review the questions, I did maybe 50 at a time and made flashcards of any that I had circled for 2 or 3 times (either a wrong answer or a guess).  

Include the Hollier practice exams in these flashcards.  Your study time may be longer now due to researching these questions.  I did this after graduation and I used the free Brainscape app on the iPad to make flashcards.  Make your own questions, and ask about what you need to learn based on what you got wrong.  If it is memorization just ask the question as in the book.  If it is theory, research the subject and make up a question that probes for an understanding of the subject.  Spend 15 minutes a day on flashcards.  Go through these flashcards every few days (you should have probably 30-70 per book, maybe more) to review until you feel that you have mastered them. 

Continue listening to the CDs, one for a week, and start over when you finish.  

Next step: intensive study of the CDs.

Note: The links in this post are affiliate links and I get a small commission of you use them. 

Copyrighted 2015, N. Sturgill, FNP 

Study plan...after completing both books once

9.  Start with the Liek book again, same process.  Then the Hollier book again. Take the second Hollier exam.  It takes some time to work through both books (maybe 2 months) which is why you want to start now.  You are going for a slow steady daily process that helps with slow steady persistent learning. 

10.  Compare your progress first time and second time.  You should see an improvement of maybe 5-10%.  It's cool, let it ride, you'll get even better the next time.

11. Third time, same thing, both books, all questions, including the third Hollier exam, and then compare progress. You should be getting better! 

Remember to continue to listen to one CD continuously each week and a new one every week, working you way through all of them.  

Next step: reviewing your weakness (the most important step).

Note: The links in this post are affiliate links and I get a small commission of you use them. 

Copyrighted 2015, N. Sturgill, FNP 

Don't buy the Codina Liek book without reading this post!

Why?  Because you may study it in depth and still fail!  Yup, even though I feel that the Codina Liek book is a good review book to help study for the exam, there are quite a few errors in it.  Some of the answers even contradict her material (which is usually accurate) so be careful!  There were enough that were "off" that they could make a difference in whether you pass or fail!

I also found an error in the Hollier book, but just one!  I emailed Dr. Hollier about it and she very graciously replied (within a few days) and commented on the response.  I really appreciate that kind of response and dedication to accuracy!  BTW, she has a web site where any identified errors are noted with the correction (most where just typos, like, "the rationale given is correct but the correct answer is b").

I also emailed Ms. Codina Liek, and she answered (after several weeks) and said that she was aware of errors and that she would correct them in the next edition!  Wow, the next edition still isn't out (as of October 2015 when I am writing this), so I guess she just expected me to fail the exam while waiting!  She also has a web site, where she talks about how good she is with helping people who have failed previously and it even has updates to JNC 8.  But she refuses to correct any errors in her book.  I consider this (IMHO) irresponsible.  Why would I want to study wrong answers or rationales!  I feel that I paid (by the purchase of the book) for good information and correct answers.  For her to just excuse herself and just say "buy the next edition" really angered me!  It speaks to how unconcerned she is about the accuracy of the information that she is providing. 

So in response to that, I have a list of at least thirty-eight questions, answers, or rationales that are incorrect in her book. Some are minor, some are obvious typos, and some are just plan incorrect!  I will send you a list of them and a little rationale if you would like, I just ask that you promise you are not associated with Ms. Codina Liek (why should I do the research for her new book for her when she is unconcerned about it and she is not compensating me?), and that you leave a comment on this blog after passing on whether or not the information in this blog was helpful for you while studying. (Note: I do not include any questions, just a comment on how it is incorrect or the rationale.  You have to have the book to understand this.  I am trying to be very careful about copyrights, so none of her questions are included.)

I've had several requests for the corrections, but the emails did not include your commitment.  I spent a lot of time on this and am asking for nothing other than this commitment!  Just cut and paste this:  "I will not share the information provided, I will send any one who asks for this information to this blog.  I am not related in any way with Ms Codina Leik and I will not share this information with her or her representatives."  Send this to me in an email to the address below.  I usually respond in 1-3 business days (I do work, so sometimes it takes a little longer). 

I just found that if you do not sign in appropriately I am unable to respond to comments you make below.  So if you would like the list of incorrect questions, just email me at fnptips at gmail dot com.  I usually respond within 24 hours. 

I did not purchase the app available, but I would use it with caution since the questions seem to be the same ones.  A friend of mine bought it; what I reviewed was identical to the questions in the book so I would assume that it has the same errors as well.  

I am open to suggestions as well!  Everybody studies and learns differently so if you have any suggestions or tips, I would be happy to feature a guest post from you after you pass. 

Next: After completing both books

Note: The links in this post are affiliate links and I get a small commission of you use them. 
Copyrighted 2015, N. Sturgill, FNP 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Study plan, Week 8 (starting the Hollier book)

8.  New week, new book.  This week start on the Hollier review book.  Her book is divided into sections, each with 24-27 questions each and three practice tests.  Use the same process except complete a section (at the most 27 questions) a day until you complete all the pertinent sections.  Remember to do the pediatrics and geriatrics sections in the back.  They will take more time since there are more questions.  Just divide them up into 25-30 questions a day until you complete the book. (NOTE: it looks like this book is no longer sold by Dr. Hollier.  It is an excellent book, so I would try to buy it used while you can.)

Once again, do a total and look at your scores.  Your scores will probably not be too good.  Don't worry too much, this will help to focus your study on what your weaknesses.  On some days if you have time to do 30-50 questions, that is fine,  just do not do more than 100 questions at a setting.  

After you complete all the sections in the Hollier book, take one day and set aside about 3 hours for one of the practice test.  How are you doing?  Hopefully your score is improving as you go along. My first time around I was in the 60-80 range - which some people say is good enough to pass.  But failure was not an option for me, so I continued to study. I did not feel "ready" until I was getting scores consistently in the 90s. 

Next: Don't buy the Codina Liek book without reading this post!

Note: The links in this post are affiliate links and I get a small commission of you use them. 

Copyrighted 2015, N. Sturgill, FNP 

Study plan, week 4 and finishing Codina-Liek......

Are you seeing a pattern here?  You should, because every week is similar to the previous week, only different questions.  Weeks 4-6 are similar to the weeks previous....

7. Continue through the book until you have answered and marked every question. If you want you can do a total for every 100 questions of what you got right (like a grade) to show how you a doing.  
On week 7, you only have about 40 questions, so use the remainder of the week to review all of the circled questions in the Liek book. 
Take a day to do some math on how you did; I got in the 60-80% the first time around, so not too good. Then grade yourself on all 600+ questions, for a grand grade. After that, set the Liek book aside for a while. 

Update: I forgot to mention the CDs.   Remeber to continue to listen to the CDs every chance that you get, and move to a new CD every week.  Remember this is to make the information second nature: listen, listen, listen.  Later on I have a scheduled intensive study from the CDs, but right now just listen every chance you get!  If you are lucky enough to have 2 sets from different lecturers (or a friend who will share with you), start the second when you finish the first.
Note: The links in this post are affiliate links and I get a small commission of you use them. 

Copyrighted 2015, N. Sturgill, FNP 

Study plan, week 3

Have you been studying regularly, or are you behind?  Getting behind is not too big of a deal as long as you get back on the wagon and start studying again. No need to double up unless you are on a strict time table.  Just start up from where you stopped and start answering questions again.

Week three is essentially the same as week one and two except that you are moving on to harder questions.  It seems like I missed more the farther on I went on Leik's book.

Day 1 through 5 : Answer 20 questions every day.  You should be working on 201-300 this week.

Day 6: Go back to all the questions from 201-300 that you circled and review these.

Day 7:  answer all the questions that were circled for questions 101-300.  No need to keep track of your progress, you are just cementing this information on your head.

Next: Study plan, week 4 and finishing Codina-Liek......

Note: The links in this post are affiliate links and I get a small commission of you use them. 
Copyrighted 2015, N. Sturgill, FNP 

Study Plan, week 2

Have you started with your daily question and answer sessions?  Don't worry the first time how you are doing, use your wrong responses to focus on your weak areas.  I found that I was missing more questions as I got farther along in the questions.  Don't worry, you will improve after studying!  Just keep plugging away at it, and answer questions every day. 

Every day: listen to the CD #2 this week, once you finish it, re-listen to it all week.  Are you getting sick of it yet?  Can you almost repeat it word for word?  Good! 

Day 1 - 5: In Leik, answer 20 questions every day, working on questions 101-200.  

Day 6: Review any circled/marked questions, research each one so that you know the rationale for the answer. 

Day 7:  review all circled/marked questions of the first 200 questions. No need to keep track but if you keep missing a question, pay attention to it and maybe research it a little. 

Congratulate yourself!  You have almost made studying a habit!  

Remember, if you need to take a break for a test or an emergency, it will delay you a few days to a week but not make this impossible.  Just jump right back to studying those 15 minutes as soon as possible!  How are you doing?  Have you been able to study consistently?  Share your thoughts below. 

Next: Study plan, week 3
Note: The links in this post are affiliate links and I get a small commission of you use them to make a purchase. 
Copyrighted 2015, N. Sturgill, FNP 

Monday, July 6, 2015

How to track your progress with review questions

Well, at least one way that worked for me.  I am sure that everyone will do it a bit differently, but this way worked for me.  It is cheap (about $1 and a little time) and easy. 

Instead of flipping back and forth from the questions to the answers, I wanted a way to see the answers quickly.  I used post-it notes for this, folded over with the answers on the reverse side so that I could not "cheat" by glimpsing the answer.   After a while I realized that I could benefit by using the front side to track my progress.  This is how I did it.
From the Dollar Tree guessed it.. $1
These handy little sticky notes were just the right size.  I bought these at the Dollar Tree but you could also pick them up at Staples or another office supply store (these would also work although they are more expensive).  These are the perfect size, 1.5" x 2" - big enough for several questions, small enough so that they do not cover much space, and repositionable so that they can also be moved if needed.

I placed these on the book, in a position that covered little to no part of the questions.  If a bit of the question was covered, I would just move it when reviewing that question.  In the photo below I covered the answers with the notes.

I folded these over and wrote the answers on the back side.  I could just flip it over to see them. I usually did no more than 7 or 8 per sticky note; you may get more if you write smaller or use fine tip pens.  For Codina-Leik, I tried to get one page of questions on one sticky note.  Since Hollier has the answers on the reverse of the page, I just used these to track my progress, one note per page.  Fitzgerald was a hodge-podge, I usually had no more than 8 per note, although she might have 20 questions per page.  I would divide them between the notes, and use however many I needed.   I divided the front side of the note into four sections (I planned to go through each question 4 times initially but only needed three rounds.  I did do some sections a fourth time if I had scored lower on it.)  I tracked my progress here. 
    You can see how I tracked my progress....
...any wrong responses are marked with minus circled (see 60, 61, and 62), correct answers with a plus sign, and correct guesses with a plus circled (see 42, 56, 58).  

This note shows the final questions.  This was my first round with the questions in this section, and I missed 21 out of the 124 questions or 103 correct.  Doing the math, this would be a 83%, not a passing grade.  I considered my first round as a "pre-test" so this would  be close to a passing grade but just not good enough.  Confirmation that I need to study more. 
    With Codina-Leik, I totaled my score every 100 questions, and then did a grand total of all 642 questions at the end. 
    After two rounds of the questions, I made flashcards on any question that I had circled, either as a guess or incorrect.  I studied the topic of the question until I could answer it and understand the rationale behind it.  On round three, I was scoring in the high 90s, so I knew that I was ready for boards.  
    Flashcards....I went the old-fashioned route (paper flashcards) at first until I found a better alternative.  More on that in another post. 
    But the important thing to note is that tracking your progress is extremely important.  If you don't keep track of what you missed, you don't  know what you need to study. 
     Do you use a different method of tracking?  What works for you?  Share your experiences below.

Next: Study Plan, week 2

Note: The links in this post are affiliate links and I get a small commission of you use them. 
Copyrighted 2015, N. Sturgill, FNP 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Study Plan, week 1

Do you have at least one book in hand?  If you don't hop on back to my first post and buy one now!  You can't study without the books! 

My process has you doing about 20 questions a day (I am assuming that you will start with Codina-Leik). That is very reasonable and is not too cumbersome, you should be able to do it in 10-15 minutes or less probably.  You will have one longer study day (day 6). With the Codina-Leik book you can just do 20 questions a day from the back of the book (642 questions, so about 4 weeks) and with the Hollier book (600+ questions, but about the same time period because she is sectioned a little differently) she has sections of 26-27 questions. Don't do the full exams in Hollier yet though (she has three 100 question practice exams).  Remember to include geriatrics and pediatrics from the Hollier book, both are longer sections in the back of the book.  In my example, I will assume that you are using Leik first, so start with 20 questions a day. 

Every day: listen a little to your CDs.  Just let it soak in until you can almost anticipate on the next word.  Don't worry about studying it yet.  Listen to the first CD this week, every day of the week.  You may think you know it by heart by the end of the week! 

Day 1:   Answer 20 questions a day and keep track of your progress. I used small post-it notes on each page but you can use whatever works for you. It is important that you mark which ones you got wrong and which you got right but guessed about.  I used a circled plus for right guesses and a circled minus for wrong responses.  Don't worry too much that you are missing a lot of questions (I did), this is your pre-test to show your knowledge at the start.  You will see a big improvement as you go along!  After you finish these questions, review the rationales for all the questions, even the ones you got right.  If you have any time left over in your 15 minutes, look up something that you got wrong. 

 (See the next post for how I marked my progress) 

Day 2 - 5: same as Day 1, 20 (Codina) to 27 (Hollier) questions today.  If you breezed through the questions, don't waste the extra time!  Be sure to take advantage of the full 15 minutes study time by researching at least 1 answer that you missed or guessed on.  

Day 6:  this is the longest study day, it should take about 30 minutes depending on your knowledge base.  If you are a little weak, it may take longer, so plan for this.  
     After you have completed 100 questions (after 5 days), go back and look at every question that you marked (circled).  Study these, go to your text and research to understand the pathology behind the questions, what you did not understand, and what you need to learn or memorize.  Make notes for yourself on the topic, and try to understand what you got wrong, what you did not understand, and what it is that you need to learn.  Do not just memorize the question!  Seek to understand what the question is about.  Imagine yourself teaching the topic to someone else.  Or actually teach it to your study buddy! 

Day 7: go back to questions 1-100 and re-answer every marked question.  You don't need to keep track of this, it is a just a reinforcement to see if you are learning. You should be able to do this in 15 minutes or less (unless you missed a lot of questions). 

OK, that should keep you busy for the next week or so.  Remember, consistency is the key, so aim to study every day for this first week.  You want to develop the habit of learning.

To continue on to Part Four, click here
Note: The links in this post are affiliate links and I get a small commission of you use them. 

Copyrighted 2015, N. Sturgill, FNP 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

What to do while waiting for your books and CDs to arrive...

You have ordered your books right? (If not, links are in my first post.)  Have you checked out eBay auctions for the review CDs? If not, hop on over there and get looking.

Review CDs.  You do not need to buy the latest and greatest.  I started out with a set (CDs and manual) from 2011.  Most of the information was still accurate, and what was not (JNC 7 and 8, pap guidelines, etc.) I had just learned about.  I don't know about your program but my professors always made a big deal about it, "These are the newest guidelines, they just changed in the last 2 years".  So you will already be familiar with the latest changes and can update the manual based on your knowledge.
     Check out both eBay and Amazon both for available study sets.  You may even consider purchasing just the CDs without the manual.  Look at your options and see where you can get the best bang for your buck.  I purchased an older bundle (the CDs, a manual, and two review books) for less than $150.  Watch and wait, your best buys may be in July and August when most students have passed their boards and the market is glutted with review sets. When you find a good deal, grab it!
     Search for "Family Nurse Review", "FNP review," and similar.  If you want a specific lecturer, search for him/her.  Watch the prices, check out what they are selling for, make a choice, and then a bid.  I use for my bids, it places the bid in the last few seconds (yes, I am an eBay sniper), and I can bid on several sets (grouped together in Gixen) and Gixen automatically cancels the other bids once I win one. It's a great auction aid (I am not an affiliate, just a regular user of this service.)
     As soon as you get your CDs, start listening to them every chance you get, just in the background for now.  Later on you will do an intensive study with the CDs.

While you are waiting for your books and CDs to get here, research and decide which test you will take.  Both the AANP and the ANCC certifications are well-accepted.  Talk to your preceptors, ask which one they took and why.  Do some internet searches as well.  MidLevelU has some good articles about how to decide which one to choose.  Make the decision that is right for you and your philosophy.
     I can share a little about my thoughts and why I chose AANP.
- first of all, I want to be associated with an organization for Nurse Practitioners.  That may sound a bit elitist, but dog-gone it, I worked hard to be more than a nurse and I am going to associate myself with organizations that promote that.  My perceptions are probably also affected by my first certification through the American College of Nurse Midwives where it is not an option to get certified through ANCC.  When it came to NP certification, I didn't even consider a nursing certification, I went straight to the NP organization.
- financially, it costs less to be certified through AANP.  And I joined as a student member in the last semester, which saved me even more.  Why pay more if you do not have to, especially as a student?  See the exact costs here.
- let's be honest, both tests are hard but with the AANP exam I did not have to concentrate on learning the additional 23% information on ethics, research, etc. that the ANCC covers.  I was able to focus strictly on clinical concepts and get my knowledge base firm in those areas.  I know and will continue to learn about the other concepts but I did not have to worry about them for the exam.  I strive to be an excellent clinical practitioner first and wanted to focus my study on that.
- as of 2015, the requirements for re-certification also differ.  ANCC requires time as a student preceptor, and AANP does not.  This is set to change in the future but for now it is a selling point.  If you do not preceptor a student, you must do double the hours of CEU  (300 instead of 150 in 5 years!) for ANCC re-certification.  And it is not just the time to preceptoring students, it is the paper work involved as well to validate your preceptor-ship.
- once you join there are all kinds of free CEUs that you can use for state and national requirements.  Be sure to check this out and take advantage of it.  I find that pharmacology hours are the hardest to find so I look for those first.  ANCC may also offer this, does anyone know?

So while your waiting for your study materials to arrive, do a little soul searching and think about which certification you might prefer.

What path did you choose for certification and why?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.  To move on to Part Three, click here.

Note: The links in this post are affiliate links and I get a small commission of you use them. 
Copyrighted 2015, N. Sturgill, FNP 

Friday, June 26, 2015

My study plan for passing AANP FNP boards

I know just how you feel - how am I going to condense and review all the information that I have learned in the past 2-3 years in order to take and pass a 150 question certification exam?  I was in the same place earlier this year (2015) and I have a plan that worked for me, and I believe it will work for you as well. 

After taking the exam on Saturday I got a  "pass" certificate from the test site, but it was clearly marked as preliminary.  I was still nervous and afraid to tell anyone about passing.  I even checked to see if anyone had ever received a "pass" notice when they had not passed!  (No one had that I could find although one person got a "fail" when she had actually passed.  AANP called her about it asap.)  I kept checking the AANP web site, and on Wednesday I was able to print off my on-line pocket certificate!!  I finally felt comfortable telling everyone about passing. 

Wait 2-3 weeks and you will get this.......

Yes!  This is the paper that you are working towards! (sorry for the poor photograph).  Let me share with you on this blog my plan to passing the first time.   I spent considerable time on this information and this process; it worked for me and I believe that it will work for you as well.  As you can see I did better than I had expected, scored 731 out of 800 (500 is a passing score).  I was not at the top of my class, but I was an A to A- student (B+ to A- on tests, my clinical score brought my grades up).  I don't test well, and I do have to study, in other words I was the typical graduate student. I am going to share with you some simple but effective study techniques that can help you to pass your AANP exam the first time like I did! 

This should not cost you a fortune!  I was able to study and pass the AANP exam without spending $500 for a live review course (I did take one after I had passed, I used it as a review and for the CEUs for state licensure).  The total cost for my study materials was less than $200 because I bought some used materials on eBay ($150 for a bundle which included 2011 Barkley CDs and manual, a used 2010 Fitzgerald book, and a used 2013 Hollier book; I also purchased a new 2013 Codina-Leik book for about $35 for a total of about $185).  You can even split the costs with a study buddy to make it cheaper yet.  And if you follow my plan, you will be able to sell your study materials at maximal price to help others after you have passed (more on that later).  I only ask that you do a few things if you use this Study Plan:

- That you share a link to this site.  Please don't cut and paste the information that I have here; send them the link instead.  It is easier on you and I appreciate the blog traffic, so it is win-win for both of us! 
- That you post a comment about whether or not this plan worked for you, and 
- That you use the affiliate links provided in this post for any purchases that you might make on Amazon based on my recommendations.  That's it! 

This is not a "quick study" plan, this is a plan that takes about 3 months at the minimum.  It can take up to 4-5 months or longer if your beginning knowledge base is weaker.  You will continue to study until you are scoring in the high 90s.   You can start this plan during the last semester of your classwork - don't worry, the time commitment is small at first.  The information gained should help you with your general knowledge for classwork as well.  It starts out slow, and becomes more intense after you graduate.  Until then, you will study about 15 minutes daily for six days, and one 30 minute session weekly (depending on your knowledge base).  You can do this!  It is very do-able even while in school.  Now is a good time to start a consistent study program, one that will benefit you in your current studies, in practice, and for boards.  If you do not think you can consistently dedicate a 15 minute time slot every day for studying, then this plan is not for you. 

Here are the building blocks of my plan: 

Commit to a study time every day.  Commit to studying a small amount every day, maybe a 15 minute time period or a certain number of questions (I recommend 20 questions).  You will have one longer study day once week.  The daily study time is extremely important because this is what helps with the slow, consistent learning process that takes place in small easy increments with minimal effort.  If you study just one day a week for a longer period it will not be as beneficial to you. You need to make a commitment to 15 minutes a day, every day, no matter how tired you are.  If you have a friend, you could keep each other accountable to study, or be accountable to a partner/spouse.  Chose someone who is interested in your progress and will ask you daily if you are staying on track. 
     If you miss a few days, don't panic!  Just pick up where you left off and restart.  You could even take a little vacation for a few days (you might have a big test coming up, so you need to study for it instead).  But just remember to start back up with the questions as soon as you can. 

Listen.  Buy and listen to Review CDs (Barkley, APEA/Hollier, Fitzgerald).  Consider buying them used on eBay to listen to during the entire last year of your program.  And you can even buy an older version (more than 2 years old) because very little changes from year to year and - get this - you just learned the new changes so you are one-up on the information. I started out with a 2011 set for the 2015 exam, then purchased a later version for intensive review (more on this later). There are several different lecturers available, I personally used Barkley, and also listened to Fitzgerald some as well.  
     If you have a study buddy, consider each of you buying one set and trading them off.  You will both have a set to re-sell after you pass and you will both benefit from the different perspectives.  If you have an MP3 player (or iPhone and iTunes), burn them and listen whenever you can (ear buds help drown out distracting noises) or listen to the CDs in the car whenever you are in the car.  Don't worry about memorizing the content yet,  just let it soak in every day.  

Buy at least 2 study sources.  I used: 
     Codina-Leik, Family Nurse Practitioner Certification Intensive Review: Fast Facts and Practice Questions, Second Edition (affiliate link) but be sure to see my corrections in a later post since she has many wrong answers.  This book should be about $35, maybe less if you pick up a used one.  I do not recommend her app because so many questions are wrong and you may learn incorrect information. 
     Hollier, Adult-Gero and Family Nurse Practitioner Certification Practice Questions, Includes Answers and Explanations (2013 Edition) (affiliate link).  I found her to be the most accurate source, with questions similar to some on the exam.  She will also respond to you directly by email if you contact her, which I found refreshing.  She also has a website (listed in the front of the book) where corrections are posted.  This book (even used) will be about $50-55. 
     You can use other sources but these two were the ones I primarily used.  I also used 
(affiliate link).  I found her questions to be a bit harder than the board questions.  Be sure to research her work, she also has some incorrect answers (I do not have a list of these yet.)  Since I started studying in 2014, I used the older version (2010).  I was able to review a copy of the newer version, and most of the questions were exactly the same.  It seems like she added about 4-10 questions to each section,and also rearranged the sections a bit.  If you want to save a little, consider buying a used copy of the older version.  Used copies of the newer version should be showing up soon on eBay, an even better bargain! 
     You could also consider Winland-BrownAdult-Gerontology and Family Nurse Practitioner Certification Examination: Review Questions and Strategies (affiliate link), the ExamEdge questions, or the APEA Q-bank. I have heard good things about these sources but I cannot speak to them personally. 
    If you have a study buddy, to save money you could even share books.  You could use one for the first month, then trade off for the second month.  Get together, compare your scores, and share learning tips every month or so when you trade books. 

Find a good study place - not at home.  I found a friendly restaurant that allows free refills (McDonald's or Starbucks for the 15 minutes sessions, and a Chinese restaurant that allowed me to stay for 3 hours for my intensive study periods after graduation).  I have trouble studying at home because I have so much that distracts me, so much to do.  Most other people have the same problem so do not attempt to skip this step.  Consider it a little treat to yourself for studying.  Remember, this is usually just 15 minutes, not a prolonged time period except maybe once a week.  You can stop for a coke or a coffee on the way home, study for 15 minutes while there, and a grab a refill before heading out.  It is your little "oasis" study time.  
Review your progress and identify weak areas. This may be the most important step, enough so that I have a whole post on what I did.

Are you ready to get started?  Are you ready to make a commitment to your career?  Gather your study materials and follow me to Part Two

Note: The links in this post are affiliate links and I get a small commission of you use them. 
Copyrighted 2015, N. Sturgill, FNP