Basic Study Tips for Incoming/Current OT Students

Above: Studying for a big test!

Lately these posts just write themselves, I pretty much always have a topic lined up for the next day. Like tomorrow, I want to discuss how overwhelmed I get when we have lecture after lecture basically telling us if we screw up, we could kill a patient. But I promised study tips today, so here I am….big test tomorrow though augh! Allison, Brooke, and Virginia came over and it was fun studying together. They just left a few minutes ago and I am going to write this post then study a little bit more before going to bed!

Update: Recent male graduate from OT school did a post on studying for the NBCOT exams that I somehow missed even though I thought I was all caught up on blog reading! I think it’s a good match – mine are kind of for basic skills and geared at incoming students, while his is geared at GRADUATION!

Preface: I have a really strong academic background so I think these are basic study tips that technically everyone should know by middle school. However, what I have learned by studying in groups this past year is that ALOT of people, even at a Master’s level, don’t have these basic study tips down. (I’ve also discovered that a lot of people know the material better than I do, but do worse on the test because they have poor test-taking skills. But that’s a whole other post.)

Preface2: This is geared at studying Powerpoints, which is how most classes are taught these days – you download Powerpoints before class, take notes during the class on the Powerpoints, then study them for the test. (And before I get a bunch of whining from old people who say this makes it easy – it actually doesn’t. You can fit a lot more information into Powerpoints and say a lot more if the students don’t have to write everything down, so the downside of Powerpoints is that they are usually DENSE.)

Okay moving on.

Study Tip 1: QUICKLY GO THROUGH THE ENTIRE POWERPOINT to get a feel for the divisions, the amount of information, and keywords…the layout in general. Then start again and go through it much slower.

Study Tip 2: PAY ATTENTION TO THE OUTLINE SLIDE OFTEN INCLUDED AT THE BEGINNING OF LECTURE! It will help guide you to the important divisions of the Powerpoint and therefore the main points.

Study Tip 3: PAY ATTENTION TO THE HEADERS AT THE TOP OF EACH SLIDE. Don’t just learn the three items on the slide like “apples, oranges, bananas”. Look at the heading and realize that this means all these things are under the category “Fruit”. Ask yourself a question using the header -like “How does these items reflect the intellectual rigor of Fruit?”

I cannot tell you how often my friends will read the Powerpoint information to me, and then when I ask them to explain it to me in their own words, they can’t. If you can’t rephrase it, you don’t understand it. Read it again or get clarification from the book/others until it actually makes sense.

Study Tip 5: LOOK UP WORDS YOU DON’T KNOW. I’ve been surprised lately at the common words people don’t seem to know. If you don’t know the word, you probably don’t know the concept. A recent example is “Ego Adaptive Milieu”. If you don’t know what a milieu is, that phrase will never make any sense.

Study Tip 6: USE YOUR RESOURCES. Use the book and any other resources (articles, friends, therapists, professors) at your disposal, to clarify the Powerpoints. Often times these resources will fill in the gaps you either didn’t know existed or just didn’t understand.

Study Tip 7: START EARLY- give yourself as many days as possible to start going through the Powerpoints. Plan on doing no more than a few Powerpoint presentations a night, depending on the density/complexity of the material.

Study Tip 8: HAVE FUN – that’s always important when studying for a brutal test. Chocolate makes everything more palatable too.

By the way, I’ve gotten several requests for my e-mail address lately. It’s on the top of my blog in that paragraph explaining about my blog, but I’ll also post it elsewhere in a more prominent location. It’s karen.dobyns AT

Thanks all for the great comments lately!

Aug 28, 2007 | Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: 1

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