Posted on 3/31/20 by "Ken Dew"
Let's face it: learning new stuff can be difficult. And when it comes to preparing for exams, taking those first few steps to start studying can be overwhelming and intimidating. I know this because it is something I've experienced countless times before:
"Despite my efforts, it became clear that I just sucked at exams."
It was late on a Thursday night (I remember it actually was a Thursday!); I was probably 15 years old at the time, and my older brother was standing over my failed test looking confused. It was an exam for my rank advancement for Civil Air Patrol (Air Force auxiliary that youth can join). My brother and I knew that I had studied hard and had become well-versed in the material. Despite my efforts, it became clear that I just sucked at exams.
This wasn't the first exam I failed that I should have passed, and it wouldn't be the last. Years later as an adult, I would be walking out of a testing center with my failure notice for a license upgrade for my real estate appraisers license. Once again, I struggled against my nature and studied like crazy, yet I still managed to fail another exam. Maybe I overthink my answers on the exam (I do), perhaps I second guess myself (I can't decide…yes, but maybe not-I don't know). What I do know is that for most of my life, exams have been a scary Goliath to me.
It's a funny thing; you always have several emotions after failing an exam. One of them is the dread of having to do all this over again (as if it wasn't hard enough to study for the first time!). But it was the other emotion that I hated even more: shame. Every time I failed, I felt embarrassment for what people around me would think, and I thought I had let down those who believed in me.
I know now that I was being too hard on myself, and this self-imposed stress probably magnified my poor performance, but it is hard to fight these feelings. Still, people do fight these destructive thought patterns and overcome them. Chin up…you can do this. Remember the old saying: "A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor."
It turns out that great test takers are not always born, they are made. Made from great study habits, a little discipline (which gets easier over time), and a few basic tactics that you (and I at one point) had probably not been shown.
So here are a few free words of practical advice to pass tests (including the real estate exam!) from years of experience that will hopefully be a rainbow in someone else's cloud (note from editor: super cheesy, but I'll allow it).
1) Write Down Your Goals
Write down your goals and consider placing them in multiple locations so you can see them all day, every day. If we aren't concrete in defining our goals, we'll continue to move through life aimless. For instance, many years ago, I decided I wanted to take my young family to Disneyland for vacation. I took Disneyland postcards and put them on my desk at work, mirror in my bathroom, etc. This was a constant reminder to keep working at my goal. This was what I wanted, and I wasn't going to allow myself to get distracted and forget it. By the way, Disneyland was magical!
2) Make A Plan
After knowing your goal, make a concrete plan to accomplish it. My mom used to say, "if you want to reach for something, you must plan for it to happen." True words, mom. When I had bombed tests years earlier, my lack of a plan was my plan. It didn't work out so great.
If you want your real estate license to have the advantages and freedoms this career offers, you
need a plan to make it happen. This would include finding the right real estate school for your
initial education, raising the money to attend the school, lining up sponsoring brokers, spending the time to prepare for the real estate exam (that's where we come in!), etc. etc. Plan out each step, and make the necessary changes in your life to ensure this can happen, even if this means giving up some of your free time to attend class and study for your exam.
Each step of your plan is a pathway to your new career. Writing down these tasks and checking
them off as you progress can be powerful to your ego. It is super satisfying to cross things off as
you accomplish them and can give you renewed enthusiasm. Maintaining checklists will also
prevent you from procrastinating since you're always aware of the deadlines for each milestone
on your career path.
3) Timing Is Everything
When it comes time to prepare for passing your real estate licensing exams, "when you study" may be a key in your success. Whenever possible, study during the time of day that you are likely to take the exam. This is something our team has been saying for years. Why? Based on feedback from years from our customers, it leads to better performance. People can be very routine-oriented. If you study at a specific time each day, you are training your brain to be in that mode during that time of day. It really does work! If you are a morning person by nature, schedule your exam in the morning and study in the mornings. The same goes for those that aren't exactly early risers.
No Wait, Mindset is Everything.
Yes, timing is everything….but so is mindset! I admit I might be a little guilty of hyperbole from time to time. Just realize that I am saying "this is the most important thing in your life."
You probably know what the placebo effect is. Basically, the idea is something like this: Doctors
give you a sugar pill (suppository) for a common and simple headache saying it is real and it will
help. This seemingly real (but actually fake) treatment can, in some cases, produce very real results, causing your headache to go away. Anyway, that is a rough and lazy example of the phenomena (I have ADD and just finishing this post is killing me).
Now, let me ask you this… have you ever heard of the Nocebo effect? It goes something like
this: Let's say that I am going to give you a shot in the arm and before I do it, I say "Watch out,
this is really going to hurt!" Turns out that this kind scenario can magnify the pain more than it
would have without the negative warning. In a similar manner, if my wife says to me,"I am
going to list off ten things to remember at the store… and you are going to have a hard time
remembering these ten things." Guess what is likely to happen when I return from the store?
Yep, you guessed it; I only came home with the cheese balls.
Okay, I am not saying that if you think positively that you can simply will yourself into an
automatic passing score. What I am saying is that you can become a self-fulfilling prophecy and
that dwelling on the stress and negativity can result in poor outcomes. The same is true from
the people and the haters in your life that are always projecting negativity on your goals. You
know the type, but don't forget that the biggest hater is usually yourself (expect for
Megan…she's the worst).