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

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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
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Copyrighted 2015, N. Sturgill, FNP