“How do I memorize all the terms and their definitions?” As an instructor, I get this question a few times every week. There is a wealth of medical terminology in the Medical Administrative Assistant course. Understanding this terminology is a key in successful performance on the final and the certification exam. So, how do you become familiar with all of this new jargon without getting overwhelmed? Here are a few tips:
Memorization vs Familiarity
There are 2 big differences between memorizing a term and its definition word for word and becoming familiar with a term and understanding what it means:
- Word for word memorization is less efficient than familiarity. It simply takes more time to repeat a term and its definition enough times that you can recite it exactly as stated in the curriculum on demand. This is often overwhelming and exhausting. I feel like taking a nap just talking about it.
- Understanding a term means you can be flexible using your knowledge in varied contexts. It means you can answer questions about the term that may not be worded exactly as you would have memorized its definition. It also means that your understanding of the term is conceptual—you know how it works or what its purpose is.
Familiarity and understanding is the key to success in the workplace because this is where terms and concepts are applied as opposed to recited. Rather than taking the time to memorize terms and definitions word for word, take the time to become familiar enough with them that you will be able to recognize them on a multiple choice exam.
This is a simple concept that is tried and true! The more you see and use terms the more you will recognize them and understand their meaning. Sometimes this means using flashcards and sometimes it means repeating review exercises, unit tests, and module exams. Short study sessions (20-30 minutes) are especially effective when you have a list of 7-10 terms you want to learn.
Before you go to bed…
This is my secret study tip for the day: make time to do a 15-20 minute review of the things you have studied that day right before you go to bed. This one tip has worked like magic for me! The idea is to move the info from short term memory to long term memory.
To review, don’t just memorize to recite. Use repetition to familiarize yourself with new terms and understand what they mean. Use short study sessions and review info before you go to bed. Hopefully employing these simple strategies will help you come to terms with new terminology and help you remember the essentials when it comes to exam time!