If you’re studying for a cloud certification, you know it can be tricky to make time for studying. But when you find the time, how do you make the best use of it? What can you do to build better study habits and ensure as much of that sweet cloud knowledge as possible catches hold in your gray matter? We passed the hat around A Cloud Guru HQ for tips on how to increase the sticking power of your study sessions. Here are seven tricks to studying smarter and ensuring maximum retention while learning your way around the cloud.
1. Be a person of note(s).
Take notes. Sure, it’s like Learning 101, but it’s easily overlooked when studying online. As you take in those knowledge nuggets, put pen to paper and mama bird them right back up again. For this, it turns out the pen is mightier, so really use a pen (or pencil, crayon, scented marker — whatever you prefer). The old-school approach of note-taking is backed by new-school research. Paper note-taking leaves faster word-per-minute typing in the dust when it comes to retention. So while you may feel your penmanship shames your elementary school handwriting teacher, it just may be the key to locking away info in long-term mental storage.
2. Say again?
After completing a chapter or your allotted study time, reframe what you’ve learned in your own words. The act of explaining what you’ve learned reinforces it. This goes a long way toward helping you understand the hows and whys of something and avoiding rote memorization and repetition.
Draft a pretend ELI5-style email to a tech-clueless buddy on the new knowledge you’ve attained. Better yet, don’t just pretend: Find a family member or friend. They don’t know AWS cloud from a stratocumulus? Perfect. It’ll force you to break down the concepts and prove to yourself you really understand them. As a bonus, follow-up questions you struggle with can reveal weak spots in your understanding, illuminating areas that deserve a second pass.
3. Get out of the zone.
Pause and review. Periodically tap the brakes and look back at what you’re learning. Like zoning out on a long drive, sometimes it’s easy to lose track of how you got from point A to point B. Make sure you’re understanding what you’re learning before moving on. Flip back through your notes, make some flashcards, or take practice exams to test your knowledge and build your confidence.
4. Those who learn do.
One of the best ways to learn is by doing. A Cloud Guru has hands-on labs that put cloud concepts in your hands. Some walk you through a task, others challenge you to figure it out for yourself. Experiential learning FTW!
5. Form your fellowship.
Going it alone can increase the odds of failure, so connect with others in the same boat. Consider forming a study group with friends or coworkers or reconnect with that old conference contact with similar ambitions. Even if they’re not following your same path, talk to people around you about what you’re doing and why. Publicizing your efforts holds you accountable and sets up supports to encourage you when you feel like throwing in the towel.
Also, take it online. Lose the lurker status and participate in the forums. Ask questions, share your experiences, and provide answers as your skill set grows.
6. Turn to gaming.
When it’s time to study, turn to video games. Not for a distraction, but for soundtracking. (Bonus pro-tip: Maybe leave Steam closed until your studying session is complete.) As pointed out by a wise, old Advice Animal meme, video game music is designed to provide a stimulating audio backdrop that won’t distract (in theory).
If video game soundtracks don’t give your study game a 1UP, consider experimenting with music you might not normally listen to on a daily basis. Try looping ambient soundscapes designed for meditation or the soothing sounds of a Japanese vibraphonist to hush out distractions. Maybe MIDI tunes, Daft Punk, or punk rock. Whatever it is, find the soundtrack that sets your brain to “learn” and press play. By doing that, not only will you amp up your study session, you’ll also help form an association between that sound and study time — helping you better build a routine.
7. Break yourself.
When you’re drinking from the firehose of learning, coming up for a breath can ensure you’re not drowning. Give yourself a break. Get up and go for a short walk. Wash the dishes. Change gears and jump online for a brief battle royale. Whatever you do, don’t feel guilty about doing something other than studying when studying is done. Consider it the reward you’ve earned because you’ve learned. And before you know it, you’ll have a cloud certification to show for it.
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