A Simple Solution for the Best Results from Your NCIDQ Prep
How many nights have you stayed up late to cram for the NCIDQ?
How much caffeine have you downed to try to stay awake to study?
Yes, can you say – My favorite study spot is Starbucks 🙂
Be honest. You’re pushing your body into sleep-deprivation mode, but do you feel any more prepared for the exam?
About half of exam candidates fail the NCIDQ Exam on the first try. So what are the other half doing for NCIDQ prep that’s so different?
It could simply be that those who pass the NCIDQ the first time are sleeping more.
Getting enough sleep is essential for the health of your brain. Your brain needs rest to form and wire new memories – which is exactly what you’re trying to do when you study for the NCIDQ Exam. (And no, caffeine is not an adequate substitute for sleep.)
How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?
Research shows that people who sleep more perform better.
World-class athletes sleep an average of 8.75 hours a night. That’s about an hour more than the average person. And don't go thinking that these statistics are just about physical performance. These superior athletes tend to have above-average IQs.
Sleep is essential, no matter what feat you are trying to accomplish. And passing the NCIDQ Exam is a feat!
Not all sleep is equal. In addition, the different stages of sleep are important for different types of cognitive and physical function.
If you are studying building codes, using flashcards, or reviewing NCIDQ glossary terms, it’s better to go to bed early. Your brain will retain this type of information much better first thing in the morning.
But this can be different when you need to think creatively – for example, practicing space planning. You’ll perform better if you stay up and study at night (within reason). Creativity comes more quickly to your brain at night than it does early in the morning.
And remember, varying your study routine and surroundings can have a huge impact on your brain’s ability to retain and recall information. Environmental cues trigger more areas of your brain. This helps you retain more information, making recall during the exam much easier.
Cram the cramming — study in intervals and use memory triggers Instead
When you cram for a test, your brain only retains 20% of what you studied. Talk about a huge waste of your precious study time!
A simple trick for better results — trigger your brain to store information in long-term memory by spacing out your study time.
This doesn’t mean you have to spend more time studying. Just break up your study sessions.
It may seem counterintuitive because everyone wants to learn fast. However, you’ll retain information longer and recall it more quickly if you slow down your learning.
In his article How to Learn, Garth Sundem summed up the recent research this way:
If you study, wait, and then study again, the longer the wait, the more you’ll have learned after this second study session.
There's also another simple trick you can use with spacing out your study sessions. Use memory triggers while you study to help your brain recall information during the exam.
Research shows that listening to music while studying will trigger your brain to retrieve twice as many words when the same kind of music is playing during an exam.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to play music while you’re taking the NCIDQ. But if you get stuck, you can just turn on that radio in your head.
You can also try other memory cues like wearing the same clothing, same colors, or the same light scent (but please don't disturb others during the exam by wearing a strong fragrance!).
You can also use these same triggers in later study sessions to help you recall what you learned earlier.
These memory triggers do double-duty as cognitive stimuli, too, helping you store information in multiple parts of your brain.
The Qpractice study schedule and online prep resources make it easy to study the right way. Our study schedule spaces out your study sessions with breaks in between. And you can use our online study materials at any time in any location.
Plan out your NCIDQ Prep — your new weekly Schedule
You know you need more sleep. You know that cramming until 2 AM is not an effective study method. So how do you go about creating a study plan that will help you pass the NCIDQ Exam?
First things first — figure out where you’re wasting your time.
Then make a new weekly LIFE schedule that ensures you’re getting enough sleep and you’re spacing out your study sessions.
If you subscribe to the Qpractice NCIDQ study plan, you’ll receive a weekly schedule reminder of exactly what to focus on. But you can create your life schedule with a pencil and paper or plug your schedule into a digital tool like Google Calendar.
Schedule all your activities during the week – from work time to gym time, from errands to downtime. Yes, even put your favorite TV show on your schedule. Now make sure you add study time to your life schedule too.
Jot down not just when you’re going to study but also where and how.
Friday lunch break: 30 minutes, The French Press, take a practice quiz.
Sleep deprivation doesn’t serve you when it comes to NCIDQ prep. Instead, increase your chances of passing the test by making sure you’re getting enough sleep and spacing out your study sessions.
Make this lesson stick.
- Where do you study best?
- Do you mix some of it in at work and home?
- What music works best for you while studying?
I personally like all the water sounds on Focus@will ~ Lisa