Friday, June 12, 2009

25 tips: How to pass respiratory therapy school

Question: Do you have any study tips that helped you out? You mentioned that what makes it hard is the amount of information that's thrown at you... I was wondering if you had any tips for retaining the information? :) I've been highly advised to buy a voice recorder and tape the lectures... did you do that, and if you did, did it work for you?

A voice recorder might be nice, but I wouldn't rely on it. However, if it works for you, I'd go for it. Regardless of whether you tape or not, I would still take notes for fear that what I was recording was somehow deleted (when I was a journalist I had that happen twice). But that's just me.

Now, keep in mind any study skills that I give you here are ideal only. You have to pretty much come up with methods that work best for you. When I was in school I was single, lived by myself, and was motivated by the fact I needed a job now and I could not fail.

Personally, I never recorded a class, but I did have a tendency to transcribe the class. I rarely tried to make sense of what the teacher was talking about while he was lecturing, instead I took notes like crazy. Then, when I was home, I would rewrite all my notes and organize them on the word processor. Usually by the time I did that I had all the little things memorized. And the things that were complicated I understood better. If something still confused me I would read that section of the program book. If I was still confused, I would ask the teacher to expound on that topic the next day until I understood it.

This technique worked wonders for me. Like I said, I don't imagine I have a very high IQ, and I don't retain information as it is thrown at me, and I'm definitely not book smart. The reason I did good in RT school was because I worked hard, and I studied every minute I had. And, I suppose, it was this kind of dedication that made me believe the RT program was hard. I wanted to shift as much of this information into my long term memory as I could so that when I became an RT and was in a stressful situation I'd always have that retention to back me up.

(To read how I became a good student click here.)

Here are some more study tips. I imagine most of these would work for any curriculum:

  • Don't be a slacker
  • Study hard.
  • Read and study the book BEFORE going to class
  • Go to every class
  • Go get your books early and study before class starts.
  • If you have an assignment, start working on it NOW. Get it done way before the deadline.
  • In other words, DO NOT PROCRASTINATE!
  • Take the best notes you ever took in your life
  • Recopy your notes as soon as you get home that night.
  • Organization is key to easy studying
  • Rewriting notes is a good way to memorize
  • Try to spend one night a week studying your ass off
  • Review your notes at least a half hour daily
  • If you don't understand something, refer to the book
  • Don't fret the small things. You can deal with those later.
  • If you don't understand something, don't spend all day trying to figure it out.
  • If you study as I recommend above, 24 hours before the test you should know most of your material and can just relax and review
  • 24 hours prior to the test when everyone else is cramming, you should feel confident that you did a good job studying all week and just go to bed early.
  • On the day of the test get up early, review your notes quickly in case you forgot something (especially review formulas), and then put your notes down and go to class.
  • By now you should feel rather comfortable you have most of the material down, so what you'll want to do is just make sure you know all the formulas.
  • Do not cram the day of the test
  • Don't cram in class. I used to always say, "If I don't know it by now I never will."
  • When you sit down to take the test write the formulas on the top of the page while they are fresh in your head. The rest you should have down pat already.
  • Take your time on tests. Don't try to be the first one finished.
  • If you don't know the answer right away mark the question and move on
  • Your first answer is usually your best.
  • Before you hand the test in, go over the questions you marked.
  • If you're not good at studying alone, make friends and group study
  • tutoring is a good way to retain information
  • Do not party with your friends during the week, save that for the weekend
  • Here and (better yet) here are some more good tips

Basically, the idea here is to study early so that when the test comes up you can feel relaxed while many other students are stressed and cramming.

Like I said, you have to find what works best for you based on your skills and other things going on in your life. Still, I learned these skills by experience. I did not use them earlier in my college career, and my grades were not so good.

Yet, in the RT program I stuck to these tips to a tee, and I graduated either near the top of my class, or at the top of my class. I don't have an ego, so I had no need to figure out for sure where I ended up.

Yet, by the time I started RT school I had figured out that the only way to succeed is by working hard every day until I graduated. By using the tips I provided above I did quite well in the RT program, and you should too.


Anonymous said...

I graduate in two months. What advice do you have for those of us starting our first 'real' job?

Scared Sh*tless....

Freadom said...

Check out this link for the answer to this question.

Anonymous said...

I am just starting respiratory school in the Fall. I appreciate your advice. Thanks you.