I want to talk about how students can get the biggest return on their study efforts for the Praxis Core. I noticed that a large percentage of students were dedicating a couple of hours a week to studying for the test, but they didn’t get the results they wanted.
Many of these students were frustrated because they had put in the time going over several practice tests, and their scores were not improving as much as they wanted. A significant number of these students struggled to pass all of the sections of the test for months.
All this studying and disappointment took a toll on them. They worried about this everyday because passing the test was mandatory for becoming a certified teacher, their dream job.
This phenomena concerned me deeply, so I began looking for reasons. You see I believed that there was more than content knowledge holding back these students who were struggling.
I poured over all of my student files, and I started to see a pattern. There was a strong correlation between the number of hours dedicated to studying and how quickly they passed the test. The students who made preparing for the test their number one priority, and committed a significant amount of time each week to studying passed the test in a shorter period of time.
In the past, I would tell students that short bursts of studying done consistently over a period of time would help them to learn the material. I often gave this advice because my students were busy people trying to fit studying into their crazy schedules.
I figured that these bursts of studying would add up, and be more beneficial than not studying. Yes, it is better than not studying at all, but it is not enough to get the results they needed.
Why Shorter Study Sessions Hurt You
Recently, I came across an idea that gave me the insight I needed to understand why this approach was ineffective, and would not get the job done. It turns out that every time a person shifts from one task to another they need time to reframe their thoughts and get acclimated to the new task.
After a long day of work or school, you make time for studying. You have to take steps to get into the frame of mind where you are ready to learn, and retain the information you study.
To get ready to study, your process may include:
- deciding where you will study
- gathering materials
- deciding what specific concepts or sections of the materials you will study
- shutting off all distractions
- focusing your mind, so you can comprehend what you are studying
Each of these steps takes time and energy that reduces your effectiveness, and I estimate that this process takes somewhere between 30 to 60 minutes to complete depending on your process. If you have allotted two hours for studying, you are actually studying for 60 to 90 minutes.
Since this loss of time happens each time you sit down to study, you are better served scheduling longer study sessions. One 4-hour study session is worth more than four 1-hour study sessions.
Now you might be thinking, “How can I possibly study for four hours straight?” Well, I have a technique you can use to boost your productivity, and help you stay focused.
How to Study with More Focus for a Longer Time
It is called the Pomodoro Technique, and a multitude of successful business people, athletes, creative people, and many others all around the world use it to get things done, avoid procrastination, and boost focus.
This technique has helped me to achieve so much that I tell everyone I encounter about it. My students and I have found great success using pomodoros to learn quickly and stay motivated.
You will be more effective in your study time if do the following before you sit down to study:
- Make a list of topics you need to study.
- Prioritize your list of topics by importance.
- Gather all of the materials you will need to aid you in your study process. In addition to your study materials and supplies, you will need a timer. You can use a kitchen timer or your phone.
- Turn off all distractions, including putting your phone on Do Not Disturb and turning off notifications on your computer.
Now you are ready to study, so here is the process for doing Pomodoros:
- Set your timer for 25 minutes, and focus all of your energy and attention into studying your topics until the timer rings. You may need more than one period to finish a topic or finish several topics in one period.
- Set your timer for 5 minutes, and take a break. Be sure to do something that rejuvenates you for more work.
- Repeat this process three more times.
After four periods of intensely focused study, you are ready to relax, so reward yourself. If you will be studying more, set your timer for 30 minutes, and enjoy your break. Then repeat the study process again. If you are done for the day, congratulations on being so productive, and schedule your next study session on your calendar.
I would love to hear about your experiences studying for and taking the Praxis Core. I won’t try to sell you anything. I just want to learn more about the students taking this test, so I can be of better service to students.
During our session, I will provide you with some tips and strategies that help with studying and taking the Praxis Core. Please fill out the form below with your contact information, so we can schedule a time to talk.