When I initially found out I would have to become certified in case management for my job, I did not think it was a big deal. I had done well in school, passed a certification exam previously, and completed plenty of continuing education units. But as the time approached for me to obtain my certification, I became anxious. I needed to find successful study strategies for the CCM Exam.
It had been a long time since I had studied. I wasn’t sure I even remembered how. In school, the teacher taught us, and then we were tested on the material. This time there was no teacher. What was I supposed to study? When I was in school, it was my job to study. Now I had a full-time job and a family to take care of. Where was I going to find the time? It all seemed overwhelming, but I got through it and so will you. Here are some things I learned along the way to help me pass my CCM Certification and I believe they will help you too.
Where to Begin?
Start off by determining what you need to know. Luckily, CCMC gives us a list of the examination content, which tells us exactly what we will be tested on and the number of questions in each of these areas. Look over the exam content and determine what areas are your strong points and what areas you need to learn more about. Once you do this you can make a list of resources you will need to study from. This can include books, workbooks, and the internet.
What gets scheduled gets done. What doesn’t get scheduled doesn’t get done. — Michael Hyatt
Determine when you will study. “When I get time” is not good enough. You need to schedule in your study time like you would an appointment. After looking at my schedule, I determined I did not have time to study! I tried squeezing it in after the kids went to bed, but found myself falling asleep. I decided if I was serious about this, I had to make it a priority and schedule it first thing in the morning before my 4 kids woke up. This was a huge deal for me. I am not, nor have I ever been a morning person. Getting up at 5 am to study was torture, but I did it. And the longer I did it the easier it became.
Create a Study Spot
Find a quiet spot to study, a place where you will be comfortable, and where there are few distractions. If you will be studying while your family is around, explain to them that when you are in your study spot you should not be disturbed. Your study spot should have everything you need to study conveniently accessible to you. This is the home for your books, notebooks, highlighters, pencils, sticky notes, and laptop.
Think about how you have learned new things in the past. Do you prefer to see, hear, or do? Or a combination of all three?
If you are a visual learner you will want to spend the majority of your study time reading and writing. You might read a section and then take notes or make a graph, chart, or mind map to make it more visual for you.
On the other hand, if you are an auditory learner, you will need to hear the information to absorb it. If you can, get audio study books. If those are not available, try reading the material you are studying out-loud. You can tape yourself reading important concepts, and then play it back so you hear it. Another option is to join a study group, where you can hear and talk about the material.
Kinesthetic learners will have to be a little more creative. They learn by doing. The good news is that imagining yourself doing something can be just as good as doing it. Think about how you could use the information you are learning in your current role as a case manager. Or you could take the information you learned and create a case study using that information.
Get your body ready for your study session by eating a nutritious snack or meal. Avoid sugar which will give you the sugar high, followed by the sugar low. Make sure you have something to drink handy. And last but not least, use the bathroom. Once you begin your study session you don’t want to be interrupted.
You know when, where, what, and how to study. It’s time to start studying. If you are like me, you can get distracted easily. I found a website that played music specifically designed to help increase focus and concentration called Focus@Will. Music you like engages you. It makes you feel good, moves you physically, emotionally, and intellectually. That’s why you love to listen to it, and that’s also why it is going to distract you when you are trying to focus and concentrate on studying. Singing and foot-tapping takes you right out of the focus zone. Focus@Will has a unique library of instrumental music that you won’t find anywhere else. Every track has been remixed, re-edited, and scientifically remastered specifically for focus enhancement. By making this music part of my study routine, I trained my brain to transition faster into study mode. If you would like to learn more about Focus@Will or start a free trial, click on the link below.
I recommend starting your first study session by skimming through the material you have. This is a quick read to get a general idea of the material you will be studying. If you come across something totally new, or hard to understand; mark it as something to come back to later in a more in-depth study session. You will be surprised at the amount you learn by skimming through the material you have.
During your next study sessions, pick one of the subjects/topics you need to study more in-depth. This is where your learning style comes in. You can take notes, read out loud, create mnemonics, or develop a teaching plan for your study group, based on your learning style. If you are reading CCM Certification Made Easy, this is where you would follow along with the free companion workbook.
Once you have learned all the material you may feel you need to “test yourself.” For more information about practice tests, see the article I wrote about CCM Exam Practice Questions.
Learning to study again after so many years can be overwhelming, but by making a plan and sticking to it, you can make it manageable and even enjoyable.
I have put together a free step by step guide to studying for the CCM exam called Successful Study Strategies. If you would like me to email it to you, simply complete the form below with your personal email address and it will be on its way to you. You will be able to save this to your computer for future use and print it off if you like. Please use your personal email address and not your work email address, as most employers’ emails will not accept emails with attachments.