With the exam season just around the corner, you might have a resolution or two in mind. Sometimes we only think about resolutions at New Years, but you can change your mindset anytime.
For most, resolutions are getting rid of bad habits and negative behavior – going to the gym more often, saving more, and so on.
One setback you don't want to experience this year is in your study efforts for the NCIDQ Exam. With limited time, you'll want to cut your mistakes— not only on the exam itself, but also your study habits leading up to the exam.
The problem is, we have a natural tendency to assume blame when our new habits don't stick. We assume we are the problem, when the reality is it was the strategy we were using to begin with. It’s simple:
“If you can change your strategy, you can change your behavior.”
With Qpractice, make a resolution to make the most of your NCIDQ Exam study approach.
NCIDQ Study Mistake #1
Relying on willpower for long-term change
You can't “will” yourself to make changes.
While it might work for a short time, like saying “no” to anything chocolate, it’s not a long-term solution because it creates what's known as “decision fatigue”.
Instead you can create new “tiny habits” that aren't overwhelming, and eventually become part of your daily behavior.
One “tiny habit” Qpractice members recommend is to keep a notebook handy to jot questions down during the day to research later. You can also record these in your phone notes app.
How many times does something pop in your head and you tell yourself “I'll have to remember to look that up later”, and then forget?
Note the practice test questions you miss, so you can research them afterwards — this is super easy when you print out your practice test results. Take a picture or screenshot any visual items with your phone.
“Willing” yourself to remember a bunch of ideas is unreliable.
Then take a break at lunch and look these up in the NCIDQ Exam Glossary, watch an answer vault video, and post a question in the study group.
Just start creating new habits like this, and they'll crowd out other activities you might want to take a break from — like spending too much time on social media or online shopping 🙂
You might even start to associate lunchtime with study time and save a few calories, too!
NCIDQ Study Mistake #2
Attempting big steps instead of baby steps
A lot of people celebrate achievement only when it's large, with measurable results. Finishing a marathon is a good example. Or when they actually pass the last of their three exams.
But instead consider rewarding yourself for keeping up with the daily training. While milestones are worth praise, it only makes it more challenging to start something new with such a huge goal looming over your head.
Taking baby steps, one at a time, will get you to where you need to be.
So, for example, by taking a few days to tackle one chapter of David Kent Ballast's Interior Design Reference Manual, or by working through just one lesson each day in the study modules in Qpractice, you can work yourself through the entire exam blueprint in a measured period of time.
No surprises. Less stress. You can celebrate after you’ve completed the section.
Reward yourself with something fun, like this video, it's 7 minutes of pure enchantment and inspiration. Just take it one step at a time.
NCIDQ Study Mistake #3
Ignoring how environment shapes behavior
Have you heard this saying:
Change your environment and change your behavior.
The way you act is often a product of what's going on around you.
Do you find yourself watching TV during your evening study time? Don't let Netflix control your NCIDQ study schedule.
Take your books to another room if other family members are watching TV at night, or go to your favorite coffee shop or a public library. Get away from external distractions, and you won't be distracted yourself.
NCIDQ Study Mistake #4
Trying to stop old behaviors instead of creating new ones
Related to the willpower mistake in #1, simply trying to avoid problems is setting yourself up for failure. It’s very challenging and draining to stop negative behavior. So instead of trying to squash it, replace it with a positive behavior.
Jason Fried, co-founder of project management app company Basecamp suggests instead of making something worse a little better, how about making something good a little better?
“Don't spend so much time looking down. Look up more.”
If you have trouble sitting still while studying, don't fight it.
Go out for a walk instead. Walking can help you work through problems and spark creativity. You'll feel refreshed when you return and may gain a new perspective on your NCIDQ Exam study material.
NCIDQ Exam Study Mistake #5
Blaming failures on lack of motivation
Motivation isn't stagnant, but ever-changing. Like emotions, motivation can be fickle and when you need to rely on it, you may be disappointed.
One way of conquering this isn't changing your level of motivation, but instead creating easier behaviors that are painless to resist. Give yourself bonus points when you add one more extra activity each day:
- Read just one more page a book of than you originally planned.
- Watch 1 answer vault video
- You can easily check in with the Qpractice study group before work
- Study five flashcards at break
Make it so easy, that you can’t say no.
What can you do in 15 minutes or less? Pick something daily.
NCIDQ Exam Study Mistake #6
Not understanding the power of triggers
At the root of every habit, good or bad, is a neurological loop that consists of a cue (or trigger), a routine, and a reward.
The cue triggers your brain to select and carry out a habit. So, to break a bad habit, first identify the trigger that sends you off on the wrong path.
One trigger I identified is studying while hungry. It throws me off track.
I'd get up to get a snack, then would straighten up the kitchen, then get my snack, then I would watch TV while I ate it…and then finish the program I meant to watch for only ten minutes.
An hour passed by and my time was lost, all because I took a break I really didn't need. I could have just grabbed some carrot sticks or something before I sat down to study.
NCIDQ Exam Study Mistake #7
Believing that information leads to action
Knowledge isn't power, but knowledge and application is. This is especially true on the NCIDQ Exams. An idea is only as good as its execution, so be sure to focus on how to apply what you're learning.
One approach I took when I was studying for the NCIDQ Practicum was taking the time to analyze public restrooms. I'd assess the configuration and identified which components weren't up to current code standards. No measuring, I quickly did this just by eyeballing the space.
Looking at actual spaces with different layouts versus the couple of floor plan examples studied in a book proved to be very helpful.
Plus, these real-life scenarios are the type of situations we're really training for.
It's not something you're going to find in a book.
NCIDQ Exam Study Mistake #8
Focusing on abstract goals more than concrete behaviors
Ever listen to a speaker or had an experience that inspired you to do something big?
Starting your own business is a popular example.
Unless you take action to make that inspiration happen, like doing or creating a business action plan, it will remain an abstract goal. A pipe dream.
Most of you have the same goal — to pass the NCIDQ Exam.
Without a solid strategy, attaining this goal is highly unlikely.
This is where the Qpractice study schedule and daily step-by-step lesson plan provides you an action plan to prepare for the exam.
NCIDQ Exam Study Mistake #9
Seeking to change a behavior forever, not for a short time
Few of us “live” in the present as much as we think. If we're not pining about the past, we're usually worrying about the future. Focus instead on the present and what you can do today.
Author BJ Fogg, PhD is the Director of the Behavior Design Lab at Stanford University and has researched human behavior for over 20 years.
He learned that only 3 things will change your behavior in the long term.
Option A: Have an epiphany
Option B: Change your environment
Option C: Take baby steps (remember mistake #2?)
And according to Fogg, changing your behavior for a fixed period works better than “forever”.
Since the study period leading up to the exam is a fixed period of time, changing your behavior is much easier when you know you need to change for for a few months versus the rest of your life.
So, giving up your Saturday afternoon plans for a few weekends to tap into Qpractice Saturday Live Office Hours isn't really too much after all.
NCIDQ Exam Study Mistake #10
Assuming that behavior change is difficult
You know that saying: “You can't teach an old dog new tricks”.
It’s easy to argue why you can't do something. But when you have the right strategy, changing your behavior isn’t really too difficult.
Take one new action today.
Sign up for Qpractice, and go through our first 2 lessons on the website in Getting Started.
We walk through how to use all resources step-by-step.
Remember, each of these baby steps will get you to where you want to go.