To dominate in your preparation for the Engineer in Training exam, you must maintain an active mind throughout your studies. An active mind, as opposed to a passive mind, is one that is continually engaging in the information it is receiving, manipulating it into multiple formats that can be easily recognized and understood. Engaging in the material you are studying in as many ways possible maximizes your ability to pull it to the forefront instantly when called upon.
Maintaining and reviewing your notes is the foundation in the process of retention. If I may use another sports analogy, your notes preserve your progress, they are the Starting Pitcher of the study process. The Closer, however, is the practice problems that are found throughout and at the end of each chapter. These practice problems are written in a manner to reiterate the important fundamentals outlined in each section. They are designed to hammer home theories and further infuse the information deep in to your memory banks. Introducing this form of engagement mixes up the delivery of information, reinforcing your overall ability to comprehend in any way it’s presented. Make sure to work each and every problem, taking your time to completely understand them from the beginning to the end, treating them as if they are true exam questions. The following are some other ways to reinforce your studies.
- Index Cards: When you reach a theory that must be memorized, write it down on an index card. On one side, write down the theory name, and on the opposite side, write down the definition in full. Use the cards to quiz yourself when you are sitting at lunch or have any other spare time. This is a good flexible way to cash in on some extra studying throughout your day.
- Expand your Index Cards: Go further than just the theories and start defining symbols on index cards to help you better recall them at the time of the exam.
- Dream about your studies: I started doing this sometime while in college. Prior to falling asleep, I would take out my notes and run through them one last time while I was lying in bed. I would then throw them on the ground and hit the sack. It’s a miracle, but my brain would actually continue to process the information, and somehow, I would wake up the next day with more knowledge retained than the day before.
- Ingest notes for Breakfast: To nail down even more information, go over your notes immediately upon waking while you lie in bed, it works.
- Diagrams: If the subject matter includes diagrams (ie statics, electrical circuits, etc), practice drawing them using different configurations. Free Body diagrams are basic, but it’s amazing how many people freeze up when asked to produce one, you will be asked, so practice now.
- Put the mind to the test: Challenge yourself as much as you can, don’t reference back to your book for definitions, equations, etc, make you mind work and see what comes from it.
Bottom line, knowledge is not retained when you become stagnate. Keep your mind moving, keep it fresh, and continue to reiterate your knowledge through consistent review of notes in as many different formats as possible.
Your Final Days
Going in to the final days before the exam, you need to have confidence that you have put in your time. What you know on the Thursday prior to the Engineer in Training exam is what you will know they day of the exam. Trust that you have prepared yourself through your journey, now is not the time to panic. This is a time to reassure yourself of your knowledge, worth and build your self-confidence going in to the exam. Assert to yourself “I have studied hard and know my stuff, I am ready for this exam” and “Others can pass, so can I”. The power of positive thinking is real, use it.
Don’t attempt to “cram” during every spare moment you have leading in to the Engineer in Training Exam. Doing so will only increase the feeling of desperation which will lead to panic; panic will lead to test anxiety. Test anxiety will most likely lead to you feeling that you need to pull a mega session, or even an all nighter, the day prior to the exam. You probably already know, but if you don’t, trust me that pulling an all nighter prior to exam day is virtually ineffective, and destructive to your chances of success. What you may gain from extra study time won’t compensate for the loss of alertness and ability to concentrate due to the lack of sleep you received prior to test day. With 8 hours and 180 questions, alertness and concentration are your allies; make sure you have them on your side.
If you have established well organized notes during your studies, spend the Thursday prior to the exam running through them. This kind of memory reinforcement not only improves your performance on the test, it also improves your long-term memory of the material. Leave everything alone on that Friday prior to the exam. Let things simmer, your body and mind need a bit of recovery before you take your seat the next day.
When you awake on exam day, make yourself a high quality breakfast, this will ensure that your energy levels are sustained while you take your exam. Give yourself ample time to mitigate any travel issues that may come up, you don’t want to be rushing to your exam. Keep things even keel, focusing on staying in a confident mindset, reinforcing yourself that you have done all that you can, and that you are prepared to dominate the exam.
If you get to the exam site with extra time prior to the test, don’t go and begin cramming. This will produce the same feeling of desperation, panic, and test anxiety as it would any other time. Let the mind free and maintain those positive thoughts. They say 1 positive thought can destroy 99 negative thoughts, make it happen.
Finally, this may seem a little ridiculous, but make it a priority to go to the bathroom just before the exam. Once you begin, you will be able to use the restroom, but it’s one person at a time, so you may be waiting, with the thoughts going through your head just how bad you need to go. This kills concentration and destroys the already minimal time you have to answer the questions, nip it up front.