Friday, January 22, 2016

The Exam Prep Marathon

"It's a marathon, not a sprint." People say that about a lot of things, because it's true for a lot of things (one exception: sprinting). Things worth doing--and even things worth not doing--take time and effort. Masters degrees, work with clients, friendships, relationships...they're generally marathons, not sprints. The social work licensing exam has the distinction of being more like a marathon than a lot of other activities. It's a four-hour test--long like a marathon. It takes good preparation to do well.

Have you ever run a marathon? You probably didn't do it without a fair amount of building up your tolerance for the long run, for the aches and pains, and for the emotional strain. Marathoners start with casual running and ramp up the time and distance as they get closer to the date of the thing itself. That's a decent model for licensing exam prep. Start low, go slow. Build. Get your question-answering muscles developed. Get your content understood. Get your butt ready for a long, long sit.

Answering 10 questions correctly is all very well and good. What happens when you're on questions 160-170? Are you still able to focus or do the words start to get blurry and lose their meaning? Do Code of Ethics and DSM detail start to stir and swirl into each other? At some point in your test prep, sitting down for full-length practice tests is wise. That's the way to get a good sense of what you've got to give come exam day. It also helps with understanding when it's best to take a break. Some people plough through the whole thing at once. Others split the exam up. 1/3, break, 1/3, break, 1/3, victory. Or 1/2 and 1/2. Or 2/3 and 1/3. Or get the picture.

Another question that's nice to have answered before your test-taking marathon, what's the best focusing food for you? Maybe an apple, maybe a power bar, maybe just a gulp of water or coffee. Or maybe it's one of those glucose squirt packs that runners like (probably not). Know thyself, exam prepper!

Wishing you happy training and good luck on your big day!

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