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Exam Prep at Holiday Time: Opportunity and Challenge

The study opportunity is obvious: You have at least a few days off from work or school, and thus have the luxury of time to study. Maybe you’re hoping to block out an entire 4 hours to take a practice test in exam-like conditions. Maybe your project is to go through your notes and finally understand the difference between PTSD and Acute Stress Disorder, what constitutes a mandated breach of confidentiality, or why differentiation isn’t the same as individuation. Winter break is the OPPORTUNITY you need to intensify your exam preparation. YES!

And NO. The CHALLENGE of time off is that everyone else has time off, too, and everything in your environment conspires to distract you. Kids are home from school, your partner wants attention, and there’s shopping and decorating to tend to. Holiday music surrounds you, and when you hear, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” your natural reaction is to want to relax and enjoy it.

As with most dilemmas, either/or is not the answer. You need to relax AND study. It’s probably not realistic to block out hours of uninterrupted studying. Avoid multi-tasking: when you study, REALLY study, even if it’s for a short interval. Let it be in bits and pieces, with a good measure of fun and relaxation to reward yourself when you complete a small study task. Enlist the support of friends and family to motivate you, instead of distract you.

If you’re using PrepJet ( as your main study tool, I suggest you focus on content and quizzes, mastering small pieces of information, rather than taking on entire practice exams. At some point you do need to practice the intense focus and time management problems of the actual exam, but maybe not now. If you’re working with me as your coach, use me to help you personalize your study schedule and make sure you get enough done before your exam date.

Remember, the BBS exam is just one small piece of your personal and professional journey. You will be done with it soon. Use this holiday time with friends and family to remember what’s really important--sharing fun and traditions with people we love, and who love us back.

I wish you all good things in this season of light and peace. Happy Holidays!

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