Running the Distance: Sustained Motivation and The ASWB Marathon

Running the Distance: Sustained Motivation and The ASWB Marathon

Ever felt that dizzying high after a productive study session, only to wake up the next day, groaning at the mere thought of opening your notes? Well, if you’re gearing up for the ASWB exam, that’s not going to work well in the long term!

Preparing for an important exam is a lot like training for a marathon. It requires consistency, dedication, and, you guessed it, sustained motivation. Let’s dive into several strategies to ensure that the road to the ASWB exam is a smooth and enjoyable journey, rather than a series of exhausting sprints.

Learn more about the ASWB exam and create a personalized ASWB study plan with Agents of Change. We’ve helped thousands of Social Workers pass their ASWB exams and want to help you be next!

1) The Power of Consistency: Why Marathon, not a Sprint?

What’s with the Marathon Analogy?

Marathons require endurance. They’re not about who can dash the fastest in the first mile, but rather, who can maintain a steady pace throughout. Similarly, while studying for the ASWB, it’s about consistency. Those sporadic bursts of cramming, followed by days of nothing? That’s like sprinting the first mile and then struggling to keep up for the rest of the race. It’s not the best strategy!

The Science Behind Sustained Learning

When you cram, you’re stuffing information without giving your brain the time to process and retain it. On the flip side, when you spread your study sessions and revisit topics, it reinforces memory. This is called the spacing effect, and it’s backed by tons of research!

2) Tips to Fuel Your ASWB Study Marathon

Set Clear Goals

  • Break It Down: Instead of thinking, “I need to master all of the ASWB KSAs,” try breaking it down. How about, “This week, I’ll focus on Medications and Personality Disorders.” Sounds more manageable, right? All Agents of Change programs include a study plan that helps keep you on track.
  • Celebrate Small Wins: Finished a tricky chapter? Celebrate it! Maybe even a treat? Recognizing and celebrating minor milestones can boost motivation big time.

Create a Manageable Study Schedule

  • Consistent Time Blocks: Set aside specific times of the day, ideally when you’re most alert, for studying. Maybe it’s the early morning, or perhaps you’re a night owl.
  • Active Breaks: Remember to incorporate short, active breaks. A quick walk, some stretches, or even belting out your favorite song can recharge your brain. Learn more here: Integrating Physical Activity Into ASWB Exam Prep

Keep the Momentum Going

Don’t let one bad day throw you off track. Missed a study session? Don’t play catch-up by pulling an all-nighter; it’ll do more harm than good. Just get back into your rhythm and keep going.

Engage with Your Peers

Forming study groups can be a game-changer. You’re less likely to slack off when you know someone’s waiting for you!

All Agents of Change programs include 2 live study groups per month!

3) Avoiding the Pitfalls

When gearing up for a major exam like the ASWB, there are some notorious pitfalls that many tend to tumble into. These pitfalls might look appealing in the short run, but they often lead to bumps (or even crashes!) in our study journey. Here’s a detailed guide on how to sidestep these traps and ensure a smoother run.

The Lure of the All-Nighter

The Myth: Many students believe that pulling an all-nighter is an effective way to cover a vast amount of material. After all, with fewer distractions and several uninterrupted hours, it seems like a golden opportunity, right?

The Reality: Sleep isn’t just a luxury; it’s when our brain processes and consolidates everything we’ve learned. The fatigue that follows an all-nighter can impair cognitive functions, reducing your ability to grasp complex topics the next day.

The Solution: Instead of cramming in one night, try dividing the material over several days. If you feel you’re more alert during the late hours, it’s okay to extend your study time but ensure you’re not compromising on your sleep.

Cramming: The Deceptive Friend

The Myth: Cramming might feel like a savior, especially when you’ve got so much to cover and so little time. The rush of going through pages after pages gives an illusion of productivity.

The Reality: Studies have shown that information absorbed during cram sessions is often quickly forgotten. This is because the brain doesn’t have enough time to transfer information from short-term to long-term memory.

The Solution: Space out your study sessions. The principle of spaced repetition – revisiting material over increasing intervals – helps improve retention. So, instead of spending six hours on one topic, break it down into multiple sessions over several days. Also, make sure to focus on active reading: Active And Passive Reading – Study Tips And Strategies For Your ASWB Exam

Getting Lost in Details

The Myth: To ace an exam, you need to know every tiny detail.

The Reality: While details are essential, overloading your brain with minutiae can be counterproductive. Often, exams like the ASWB focus on broader concepts and applications rather than the nitty-gritty.

The Solution: Prioritize your study materials. Understand the overarching concepts and principles first. Once you have a strong foundation, delve into specifics. This approach ensures you don’t get bogged down and can efficiently allocate time to various topics.

Isolation: Going Solo for Too Long

The Myth: Studying alone ensures focus and fewer distractions.

The Reality: While solo study sessions are valuable, prolonged isolation can lead to feelings of burnout and stress. Collaborative sessions offer fresh perspectives and can re-energize your study routine.

The Solution: Mix things up. Balance solo study sessions with group discussions. Engaging with peers can help clarify doubts, challenge your understanding, and provide much-needed motivation boosts. All Agents of Change programs include 2 live study groups per month!

4) FAQs – ASWB Study Motivation for the Long Term

Q: How can I balance the demands of daily life with the extensive preparation required for the ASWB exam?

A: Balancing daily life with intensive exam prep is, without a doubt, one of the biggest challenges many face. Here are some actionable strategies:

  • Integrate Study into Daily Routines: Think of ways to incorporate your study into daily activities. For instance, if you have a long commute, consider listening to ASWB audio study guides or using flashcards.
  • Prioritize Tasks: Recognize that not everything that demands your attention is urgent. Differentiate between what’s urgent, important, and what can wait. This will help you allocate time more effectively.
  • Set Boundaries: It’s essential to set clear boundaries during your study time. This could mean informing family members of your study schedule or using apps to block social media distractions.
  • Self-care: As crazy as it sounds, taking time off for self-care can enhance productivity. It refreshes the mind and reduces burnout. This could be as simple as a 10-minute meditation, a short walk, or even a hobby you love.

Q: With so many study resources available, how do I choose the right ones for the ASWB exam?

A: The abundance of resources can sometimes be overwhelming. Here’s an approach to sort through the options:

  • Official Guidelines First: Always start with the official study guide or resources provided by the ASWB. They will give you the most accurate representation of what to expect. Make sure to review the ASWB KSAs.
  • Research Reviews: Before investing in any additional resource, check online reviews. Forums, study groups, and even academic platforms often provide feedback on various study materials. Agents of Change has been used by more than 15,000 Social Workers to pass their ASWB Exams.
  • Quality Over Quantity: Instead of hoarding multiple resources, choose a few highly recommended ones and stick to them. It’s better to thoroughly know a few materials than skim through many.
  • Diverse Formats: Different formats (books, online courses, videos, quizzes) can cater to different learning styles. Identify what suits you best. For some, visual aids might work wonders, while others might prefer detailed texts. Agents of Change supports all learning styles and includes both video and audio materials.

Q: How can I maintain my motivation levels, especially when the study material feels dry or uninteresting?

A: It’s natural to hit a motivation slump, especially when faced with challenging or dry topics. Here are ways to reignite that spark:

  • Connect to the Bigger Picture: Remind yourself why you’re taking the ASWB exam. Whether it’s to progress in your career, fulfill a personal goal, or contribute to the field, anchoring to that purpose can push you forward.
  • Mix Up Your Study Techniques: If reading feels tedious, switch to videos or discussion groups. Interactivity can often make seemingly dull subjects more engaging.
  • Chunking Method: Break down complex topics into smaller, digestible chunks. Instead of studying an extensive chapter in one go, divide it into sub-sections and tackle one at a time.
  • Reward System: Set up a reward system for yourself. It can be as simple as a favorite snack after a challenging topic or a longer break after a productive session.

5) Conclusion

Navigating the preparation for the ASWB exam is a journey with its unique blend of highs and lows. As with any marathon, there will be moments of exhilaration, instances of fatigue, and stretches that test your determination.

Strategies such as consistent studying, sidestepping common pitfalls, and effectively utilizing resources play a crucial role in ensuring a successful marathon run. Yet, the most vital ingredient remains your mindset. By maintaining a positive outlook, continuously connecting with your larger goals, and embracing the journey’s challenges, you harness the power to transform this marathon into a rewarding experience.

Learn more about the ASWB exam and create a personalized ASWB study plan with Agents of Change. We’ve helped thousands of Social Workers pass their ASWB exams and want to help you be next!


► Learn more about the Agents of Change course here:

About the Instructor, Meagan Mitchell: Meagan is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has been providing individualized and group test prep for the ASWB for over five years. From all of this experience helping others pass their exams, she created the Agents of Change course to help you prepare for and pass the ASWB exam!

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Disclaimer: This content has been made available for informational and educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical or clinical advice, diagnosis, or treatment