After finishing school, most adults assume that they’re done taking tests. Sure, adulthood comes with an array of other challenging tasks like filing insurance claims or doing your taxes, but there aren’t any more tests, right? Not necessarily. Depending on your career path, you may have to take one or more tests to earn the necessary certifications. If you’re worried you’ve lost all of your study skills in the interim, don’t worry – you’re not alone. These 5 strategies can help keep you focused and learn new material without feeling overwhelmed.
Make Sense Of Motivation
Before digging into helpful study strategies, it’s important to do some internal work. If you’re pursuing a new qualification, what motivates you? The qualification itself can’t be the motivation. Instead, you need to identify either intrinsic or extrinsic motivations for your pursuit. That might look like passion for the topic (intrinsic) or increased earning potential (extrinsic); but whatever that motivational structure looks like, there needs to be a reason you’re committing to this work.
Fine Tune Your Focus
Once you’re clear on why you’ve committed to learning something new and pursuing a qualification, one of the best things you can do to foster success is to give yourself the tools you need to stay focused. There are lots of great productivity apps you can try to block out distractions. Forest, for example, encourages you to stay on task by growing virtual plants as long as you don’t open other applications, while Tomighty uses the Pomodoro Technique to help break down your study sessions into manageable chunks.
Consider A Class
One of the biggest challenges that comes with taking tests and learning new material as an adult is that you’re less likely to be given supportive infrastructure to guide you, but that doesn’t mean it’s not out there. In fact, there are plenty of resources that can help guide you, so why not consider taking a class. Test prep classes designed for adults, such as Wiley CPAexcel, are broken down into small, flexible units and supported by experts in the industry, so you’ll get the educational support you need without the micromanagement a class meant for younger students might deliver.
Organize To Optimize
If you want to get the most out of your study time, it’s important to stay organized – so even if you’re not excited by the idea of “back to school” shopping, it’s a good idea to grab a few supplies and test out different strategies. Some people learn better by writing things out longhand, while others prefer to organize their materials digitally. At least if you have an assortment of pens, notebooks, folders, and applications on hand, though, you’ll be able to pivot to whatever feels most natural.
Develop A Routine
Having a study routine – a place where you work, a particular time of day, even a playlist you put on – can help you get into the right mindset to do your work and improve your focus and overall efficiency, so take some time establishing a pattern. If at all possible, choose a place to study where you don’t also perform leisure activities; for example, don’t study in bed or on the couch where you usually watch TV, since you’ll have a hard time getting into work mode. And, as necessary, be sure to put an end time on your study routine. It’s important to be committed, but you don’t want this one task to take over too much of your life, or you may diminish your motivation.
Staying motivated when doing something dull can be tough, but it’s a skill like anything else, and one that you can hone with practice. And though tests may not come around often in your adult life, many people do find themselves seeking additional credentials mid-career, so don’t let your study skills get too rusty – they just might come in handy sometime soon.