ARE 5.0: Study Method (with Kids)
Due to decisions that made a lot of sense at the time they were made, I postponed taking the AREs until I was in my mid-30s with two young children. It was is a time in my life where I had less time and money mostly went to the kids or house. The recent worldwide Pandemic probably isn’t helping you find kid-free time either. Takeaway? Make time for the AREs straight out of school and, if necessary, take out a loan to cover their cost. But for everyone else who also waited, we have to come up with a reasonable plan.
As you may be able to relate to if you found this entry in a search, life with kids frequently can get in the way of planned study time…and downtime too. I am very thankful to have a husband who was able to step in to watch the kids when I needed extra study time. But that didn’t mean that I could always take time to study kid-free whenever it was most convenient for me. To work around all this, I adopted a few study methods that allowed me to pivot as necessary to fit in some study time. The following are some approaches I found helpful:
- Go Digital: While I enjoy having physical copies of reference books, digital content is a studying lifesaver when you have to be in a dark room patting an infant to sleep. Whether I started my notes by hand or not, I made sure they ultimately ended up in a google docs file. I used that file to review topics, develop relationships between topics, and as a reference when creating summary notes for this blog.
- Use Audio: There are a number of services both free and paid that offer audio-visual content either directly for or related to the AREs. Pluralsight was a big help for a general overview. But a surprisingly helpful source was free content I found on YouTube.
- Micro-Study: It is not necessary to sit down for hours in order to learn. How much could you learn about a topic if you took 5 min or less to learn one new thing each day…what if you did that every time you had a break.
- Quiz yourself: Take practice exams and also join online communities where you can answer questions others have about exam topic areas. If you don’t know the answer, go find it from a reliable resource. The process of answering these questions will help you learn the content. Have an older child, make flashcards and have your child quiz you.
- Focus on Weak Areas: If you are already well educated on a topic, you do not need to study it in depth to pass the AREs. Do use exam guides to determine what may be your weak areas. Read a little about all the topics then deep dive into the topics that were either new or confusing. The above-mentioned quizzes help a lot with this effort.
- Get Help: Last, but most importantly, ask people in your life to help make it possible for you to study. What that means for you will depend on your existing support system. Perhaps you can develop a new support system by trading nights with a friend or coworker watching their kids. Or trade for something else if they don’t have kids of their own. (Achieving this is going to be especially hard if you are reading this during the Pandemic. Maintain social distance, do not risk your health to study.)
Please see the Registration Exams portion of my blog for other ARE related topics. Good luck with your exams, stay home and be safe. Please feel free to comment with any questions or additional tips you would like to share.