When it comes to tips on how to get the most out of your studies, there is no “one-way-fits-all” approach. That is, each person differs in terms of how to get the most out of the materials. There is no right or wrong way (other than not studying at all), so it’s up to you to discover what is going to make the material stick!
As you’re reviewing the materials, try to notice what stuck with you and why. Was it an image? Was it seeing how it applied to what you want to do as a professional? Was it a funny acronym or mnemonic that you created? Or was it simply repetition and reviewing it in different ways? Find out what makes YOUR brain tick, and then get creative with catering to your study needs. It might take some extra work on your part in the beginning, but this effort may save so much needed time on the back end!
For the ACE study materials that came with your study program, here are a few suggestions on how to approach them:
Don’t worry about memorizing everything before moving on to the next chapter. Rather, as you’re going through each chapter make sure you’re understanding what you’re reading, and then know you’ll have a couple of places within your study program where you will review and put it all together.
Study Companion or Master the Manual workbooks (depending on which certification you’re pursuing)
Use the summary review at the beginning of each chapter in the Study Companion to take notes. If there is a bullet point about it, it’s probably an important topic so make sure you write a little note about it, putting it in your own words so that you have some good reference notes to review. Then, complete the multiple-choice questions and check your answers in the back to see how you did. For the questions that you miss, go back and review those topics. For the certifications that have an associated Master the Manual workbook, there are some additional exercises that you can choose to do, if helpful.
Watch these lectures and rather than trying to take notes on everything, just absorb the information. If there is something that you REALLY want to write down, pause it for a second and add it to your notes from the Study Companion summary review, and then continue. This way, your notes are all in one place. Also, keep in mind that the program will not recall where you stopped if you exit the program, so if you’re only going to watch a part of it, make a note of where you left off so you can pick up at that same spot.
Take the quiz right before moving on to the next lesson to check your comprehension. As you’re going through these questions, rather than trying to just guess the correct answer, see if you can come up with an explanation as to WHY each response is either correct or incorrect. If you can explain that, it’s a good indication that you’re understanding the underlying topic and have a sufficient understanding for the exam (and this can apply to the multiple-choice questions in the Study Companion as well). If you’re not sure why a question is answered the way it is, then go back and review just that topic. Finally, it’s normal to miss about half the questions your first time through. Considering the length and density of some of these chapters, 50% is not too bad! Don’t get caught up on percentages or scores. Rather, use them as a learning experience to guide your reviews.
Similar to the quizzes, you really want to understand the why behind the correct answer as opposed to just selecting an answer based on the process of elimination. However, unlike the quizzes that are going to be more specific to the chapter wherein they are located, the practice tests are going to be focused on the bigger picture and piecing it all together. These questions are designed to mimic real-life situations, such as when a client approaches you with his or her unique needs. Often, there are many ways to approach the situation, and while many of those options are not right or wrong, there is only one option that is considered the BEST! As a fitness professional, you want to be able to take all the knowledge you have and piece it together in the way that is going to be right for each of your clients!
Order of steps
The sequence of steps is going to come down to what helps the materials stick for you. For example, some people like to read the text first and then watch the video content, whereas others prefer seeing the information first in the videos to help clarify the text. In that sense, there is no right or wrong approach. The following steps provide a generally helpful flow:
- First, read the text and take notes in the Study Companion or Master the Manual workbooks. Then complete the multiple-choice questions (and other exercises if you have the Master the Manual). Review the topics of any questions that you missed.
- Next, watch the videos and add any additional notes in the Master the Manual.
- Then take the online quiz. Review the topics of any questions that you missed.
- Finally, when you’ve completed all the lessons/chapters in your program, go ahead and take a practice exam. Don’t worry about reviewing too much before you take the first practice exam. Perhaps complete a quick review of the notes you took in your Study Companion or Master the Manual workbooks as a gauge to see what material stuck the first time through. Again, it’s normal to miss about half the questions your first attempt at taking the practice exam! After you’ve completed practice exam, review your results, and see if there are any questions, whether you got them right or wrong, that you’re not quite sure about why they’re answered the way they are and review those topics. At this point in time, we HIGHLY encourage you to contact a study coach to discuss those questions, and we can also help you highlight where you’re doing well and where you’ll want to complete more review.
- NOTE: if you have two practice tests, TAKE ONLY ONE! Save the second one for a time closer to your exam date for last-minute fine tuning.