Crafting a Personalized Study Plan: Your Roadmap to Exam Success!

Scott Giles PT, DPT, MBA
Posted 9/15/23

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Preparing for a licensing examination can be an overwhelming journey, but a well-structured study plan can be your secret weapon for success. In this blog, we'll provide a brief overview to guide you through the process of creating a study plan tailored to your unique needs and circumstances. Say goodbye to procrastination and hello to effective, targeted study sessions!

The Importance of a Study Plan: 
Before we dive into some of the specifics of building your study plan, let's emphasize why it's essential. Many students stumble in their preparation simply because they don't have a roadmap. Without a study plan, it's easy to get lost in the sea of exam materials and lose precious time. 
Tailoring Your Study Plan: 
It is critical to acknowledge that there is no such thing as a one-size fits all study plan. Your circumstances, learning style, and goals are unique, and your plan needs to reflect that. Here are some questions to consider when tailoring your individual study plan: 

  • Timeline: When is your exam? Is it in one month, three months, or six months? The timeframe will heavily influence your study plan.
  • Your Learning Style: Are you a quick learner, or do you need more time to grasp concepts? Do you prefer to study alone or with a group? Knowing your learning style is key.
  • Academic History: Have you consistently excelled academically, or have you faced some speed bumps along the way? Understanding your academic history can help you plan accordingly.
  • Study Preferences: What are your preferred study strategies? Do you like to use tools such as post-its and highlighters, or do you prefer digital resources? 

Building Your Study Plan

Now that you have a better understanding of your needs, let's build a structured monthly plan. As an example we'll use a three-month study plan, but you can adjust this timeframe based on your particular needs.

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Month One: Establishing the Foundation (Academic Review) 

  • Allocate a significant portion of your time to academic review. This is your preseason conditioning phase. 
  • Focus on core materials like the review book and Basecamp. If starting with your review book, simply pick a chapter and jump in. Pick off the low hanging fruit initially and avoid getting bogged down in any one area. Establish a specific timeline for the chapter and periodically check in on your progress to make sure you will complete the identified assignment on schedule. If you find the detail of the review book to initially be too overwhelming, Basecamp is a perfect alternative since it focuses on the most essential core academic information. A quick trip through the five Basecamp Mountains can make the transition to the review book far less intimidating.
  • You can also effectively use supporting tools like flashcards and the content master app during this period. These academic resources allow you to study on the go, turning small amounts of time into meaningful bursts of learning.
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Month Two: Targeted Review and Active Tool Introduction 

  • Continue academic review but with a slightly reduced emphasis. Remember by this point in the process you have already reinforced many academic concepts and relearned many others. You are starting to become more “exam fit” and can start the transition to more complex academic material and active learning strategies.
  • If you have taken our review course, you understand the power of active learning and can begin to effectively use active learning tools such as the content prompts, clinical application templates, and critical work activities. 
  • It is likely a great time to begin taking full length sample examinations. This process will introduce you to the new alternate testing items as well as provide you with an opportunity to assess your current level of mastery. The performance analysis section provides you with a plethora of information on your individual performance that can significantly increase the return on investment of future study sessions.
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Month Three: Final Preparation 

  • Further reduce academic review time. This is simply a continuation of what started in month two, meaning you are beginning to focus on active studying and taking more sample exams. Remember you cannot memorize your way to passing the exam and instead must have solid academic knowledge that you can readily apply in diverse clinical scenarios.
  • As the exam date approaches, shift your focus towards sample exams. The typical student takes 5-9 sample exams prior to the big day. Use the results of sample exams as a barometer of your exam readiness. Always strive to minimize risk and never take the exam unless you are virtually certain of the outcome. 

In summary, a study plan is your roadmap to exam success. Don't leave your preparation to chance; plan for success. Tailor your study plan to your unique needs, and remember, it's not about how long you study, but how effectively you use that time. Create your personalized study plan and get ready to ace the NPTE!