It’s August and the test prep season has arrived. Whether you are testing this month or planning to sit for the board exam in November, you have most likely thought about completing a mock exam. Mock exams are wonderful tools for collecting baseline data and determining where you need to concentrate your exam preparation time. Additionally, if you choose and complete a mock that delivers detailed post-exam feedback and resources, you will be able to efficiently create a study plan and then thoroughly master challenging content.
Although the benefits of sitting down and completing a mock are numerous, the private events surrounding this pre-testing process can feel visceral and overwhelming. In fact, these private events may even arise when you sit down to get organized and create a study strategy.
So, if you are thinking about taking a mock exam or just feeling overwhelmed by idea of starting your study preparation, follow these steps to make this process more mindful and reinforcing.
1. Choose a Mock Exam and Study Preparation Materials that Give you Detailed Feedback.
There are a TON of companies that sell board exam materials, courses, and mock exams. It is pretty typical to feel overwhelmed when it comes to finding the best fit. I recommend spending some time researching what courses and mocks will best fit your learning style. In addition, select a company and exam materials that provide meticulous and comprehensive feedback. In this way, you can have confidence in your mock exam results and yourself as you conquer challenging material.
As you complete your mock exam or begin to re-read Cooper et al., you may notice feelings of anxiety or thoughts of self-doubt. Recognize these private events by tacting them (i.e. “I notice I am feeling overwhelmed” or “I notice I am having the thought that I will never understand MOs”). Then, keep working. Often times we think that we must feel happy or confident in order to study or take a mock. We don’t. Confidence is cultivated when we push on and take committed actions toward our goals.
3. Enrich Your Environment
Prior to beginning your study process, select and organize a space that feels reinforcing and calm every time you enter. Before I started studying, I cleaned out and organized my office. Then, I bought colorful pens and fun notebooks just for exam prep. Now when I sit down to study, I have a clean environment that is organized, colorful, and completely reinforcing. In fact, I am excited to get out my pens, light a candle, and make a cup of coffee just so I can read Cooper!
4. Utilize ABA Principles to Strengthen Study Habits.
Determine your own preferred reinforcers. For example, my reinforcers include buying new pens, watching Netflix, or drinking a fancy latte.
Then, you can design a behavioral contingency that centers on completing a task and then getting access to your reinforcers. My behavioral contingency centers on completing a mock and then practicing hand lettering.
Employing behavior analytic principles while you study is the best way to ensure the exam prep process is effective and reinforcing.
5. Know your Truth and Trust yourself.
As you begin your study journey you are going to receive a lot of feedback and advice. In fact, supervisors, colleagues, and friends may even try to sway your decisions regarding which study prep course or mock exam to purchase. Although this feedback is meant kindly, YOU know what is BEST for YOU. You are a badass and you WILL pass this test.
Remember, you are capable of conquering this beast of an exam. You know your learning style, your budget, and your organizational needs. Choose materials that fit your needs and trust your gut. Remember you can take action despite your feelings. Build that confidence by taking the first few steps. Love ya. Mean it.
Harris, R. (2011). The confidence gap: A guide to overcoming fear and self-doubt.Boulder, CO: Trumpeter Books.
About the Author
Lauren is a Provisionally Licensed Behavior Analyst who loves to hand letter, drink coffee, and lift heavy shit. She fully recovered from a ten-year eating disorder and hopes to help others do so after she passes the board exam. You can follow her on Instagram at letters_and_lifting.