I don’t know about you, but when I was studying for the Hand Therapy Exam, I used to sit there and read for hours, and then look back and be like, “Oh, my God, what did I read? I don’t even know what I read.” Or you’re reading stuff, and you have questions, but you don’t have anyone to turn to for help. It feels like a cycle of wasted time.
At the end of the day, when you’re studying for the exam and want to choose the best answer on the test, it doesn’t matter what treatment technique you use. It’s really about the book material, how you critically think through a particular type of problem, how you solve that problem and decide what needs to happen next.
Ultimately, it’s about becoming a critical thinker, problem-solver, and decision-maker.
I know you can prepare, feel successful in your preparation, sit for the exam, and be successful.
So when it comes to preparing and sitting for the exam, I break up the exam into two frameworks:
If you think about mindset, it’s the mental aspects and emotional side of things. This is the part where you might feel overwhelmed, which can lead to anxiety and test anxiety is a real thing that we have to address and deal with.
What else? Failures, past failures, sometimes even past successes can lead us and get us stuck from a mindset perspective because we’ve been successful our whole lives and feel the pressure to live up to that.
Everyone tells you the scary story of the CHT exam being such a terrible test and that there’s a 50% pass rate.
So how do you make it successful for you?
A lot of times, it can get overwhelming with the amount of information you need to know.
When you study to UNDERSTAND something, it will help you feel more confident when you take the exam because you never know what kind of questions they will give. But, still, it’s going to help you become a better clinician as you’re going to be able to think through any case that comes your way.
Top three strategies to prepare and pass the CHT exam is scheduling your time.
You’ve got to spread out your study time. Whatever is not written down will not get done. So what will your week look like? Whether you start on a Monday or start on a Sunday, begin to map it out and be realistic because if you’re not realistic with yourself, you’re going to set unrealistic goals that won’t be met.
And when you’re not going to meet them, you’re going to shit on yourself. You’re going to be like, “Oh, you suck. You’re not studying. You can’t get anything done. You’re never going to be ready.” And that’s not a helpful mindset.
When you’re studying, you’ve got to do things that make you feel good because when you feel good, you will do good.
Every day, do something where you set yourself up for success.
Do you study well in the morning? Do you need to set yourself up to study before work? Are you an afternoon person? So are you coming home after work and studying? Or are you a lunchtime person who can study for 30 minutes or an hour during lunch or between patients? Not everyone can do that. You have to know yourself and the best way you learn.
Nobody’s going to know how you study better than you.
The second strategy that can make it very effective for you in terms of studying is time blocking.
So this is a strategy that I teach my own staff, not just the members in my programs. If you’re going to work on something, chunk out your time. Just like I chunk out my information, I chunk out my time.
So when you plan your study time, you will also plan what you will be studying.
You’re not in a rush, but you want to be effective with your time so that you won’t feel the stress. You don’t want to feel the overwhelm of reading something and not remembering it. Or spending hours and hours on something but you don’t even know anything at the end of the day.
So the last strategy is about how to use your time effectively.
To be really effective with the time you’re studying, start your timer/stopwatch when you’re sitting down to read, and as soon as your brain starts wandering into space, like when you’re reading something, and your mind starts thinking about dinner, stop your timer/stopwatch. Then, take a look at how long of a time-lapse that was.
That’s how long your attention span is. We have very short attention spans.
It is just practice.
The key is to build your attention span. So if it’s 15 minutes, you’ve got to say, “Okay, my attention span is 15 minutes.” then do something to cut yourself off, get up, do some stretching for like, literally, a minute, and come back to it. And over time, you should be able to 15, to 20, to 30, to 45 minutes.
As you become more and more successful in your studies, you’re going to see that you have more time.
Now another way of being more effective and efficient is topic strategy. So if you take a look and read your book, remember that you don’t need to know everything. You need to know the most important things as a certified hand therapist so ask yourself what you need to know to be the most effective therapist for your patient. Outside of being effective for your patients, what are the answers you need to pick on the test so that you can pass?
So break up your topics into smaller topics, block your time, and schedule it out. These are the three strategies you need to implement to be prepared and increase your chances of passing the exam.
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