How to pass an exam

I recently completed my exams in a professional finance course. I did this course despite my busy schedule, which includes a full-time job, running a cottage business, running the Money Engineer, managing a farm, being a father and husband, plus many other things. 

This professional course is part of my strategy to become a leading expert on business and finance within the region. The people at the top of any profession make the most money in their fields. The first time I attempted the exams, I miserably failed. I took a break for two years and decided to try again. This time I changed strategy. I was aided by two concepts called Bloom’s taxonomy of learning and deliberate practice. 

Bloom’s taxonomy of learning describes different levels of understanding in the learning process. The first level is recall. At this level, a learner can recall and recite facts but doesn’t really understand the subject matter. The second level is understanding, where the learner grasps the meaning of the subject matter and can discuss it comfortably. The third level is applying, where someone can apply the information in a new but similar scenario. The fourth level is analyzing where someone can connect the dots and compare and contrast issues. The fifth level is evaluation, where the learner can examine and make judgement calls on a given situation. The highest level is creating. The student becomes a master and can create new things and ideas based on the knowledge they have acquired. This is the level of expertise where you earn the most money. 

To progress up the taxonomy in preparation for my exams, I employed another strategy of deliberate practice. Deliberate practice is intentionally getting better at something. So I would wake up at 5.00 am and arrive in the office by 6.30 am. I would then read the course material up to 8.00 am. I also downloaded audiobooks on the subjects I was studying for. I would listen to these clips in the car on my way to and from work. I also enrolled in online classes, which I attended on weekends. I downloaded past exam questions, which I practiced daily. To manage distractions while studying, I used the Pomodoro technique to stay focused. I used a simple phone app to time my study sessions with frequent short breaks. 

This was really hard work, but it paid off, and I passed the exams. I was reminded that the game is never won on the pitch but rather on the training field. Becoming an expert in your field can really generate out-sized returns. However, it requires you to increase your level of understanding. Bloom’s taxonomy of learning, coupled with deliberate practice using the Pomodoro technique, can really accelerate your journey. 

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