Memorization and Study Tips

Jenny Ewen, BA, NREMT
emt training requirements

One of the most important part of studying for the NREMT certification and psychomotor practical skills exams is memorization. EMT students are faced with a lot of facts and procedures that they need to memorize in order to be successful in the course. When you start studying, first you need to know what kind of learner you are: auditory (listening), visual (reading), or kinesthetic (doing). Many people are a combination of more than one type. If you’re an auditory learner, you’ll learn best by working with a partner and going over skills and facts out loud, or recording yourself explaining things and listening to the recording. Visual learners will do well studying directly from the textbook or skills sheets. Kinesthetic learners need hands-on physical work to memorize, such as miming skills as they study and writing down key concepts.


As you’re memorizing, use tools such as repetition (repeating things over and over until they’re stuck in your mind), flashcards (particularly for visual learners), creating acronyms or word associations to trigger your memory, rewriting facts from your textbook or skills sheet on separate paper, or while exercising – put your notes up on the treadmill and go over them while you walk or jog. Even just the act of writing notes helps move content from short-term memory into long-term memory. The best way to know if you’re understanding (and memorizing) is to be able to explain it to someone else or write it down without using any sources.


It’s helpful to study in an environment that will be similar to your testing environment – your brain will retain the information better when it’s trained in a similar environment as the exam. For instance, skills testing is usually a little more noisy since it’s verbal testing, so consider studying for it in a noisier place. The written exams will be in a quiet environment, so study in a quiet, calm setting. Don’t use your phone or have the TV on – that creates a different environment than the one you’ll be in during testing.


If you’re feeling anxious while you’re studying, be sure to take deep breaths. After you take a deep breath, look at your notes or listen to a recording of the information. This will train your brain that as soon as you calm down, the information will be ready for you. Then during the exam, when you take a deep breath, you’ll remember that information. The most important part of memorizing and test-taking is staying calm – breathe deeply and tell yourself you will remember everything!


To recap, memorization techniques include:


  • Repeat steps and concepts over and over
  • Create flashcards
  • Use acronyms or word associations
  • Rewrite facts and steps on separate paper (physically writing it is better than typing)
  • Explain the material to someone else without using your notes
  • Study in an environment that is similar to your testing environment
  • Keep away distractions like the TV and use dedicated time to study
  • Focus on your breathing during studying and test taking

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