Strategies for Passing Your CE Exams

passing insurance ce examsDo you often find yourself having to retake your CE exams? Here are some practical tips on how to pass these assessments the first time:

1) Look for generalities. When reviewing your materials in preparation for the test, pay attention to large headings and focus on those first. Most tests emphasize the general first, specific second. In other words, if the course is on Ethics, look at the key points in the course and highlight these. There may be subheadings, such as Honesty in Transactions, Errors and Omissions, or the like. Focus on these general areas and know what they mean, and how they apply in a practical sense.

2) Focus on important details. Most of the CE exams focus on specifics that have to do with the process, law, or ethics of insurance sales careers. Don’t try to memorize everything, only those things which are of great significance. There is a lot of other information in the courses to add meat to the material. But the tests tend to include only the most important points.

3) Apply it to the real world. The purpose of insurance CE is, after all, to teach agents to use what they learn in the real world. There are always some questions which have you apply your knowledge to specific situations. So, know how to use the information in your own practice and this will help you pass the tests.

4) Apply test-taking strategies. Just like in school, it helps to know a few test strategies. For example, most test items are multiple choice. Cross out choices which don’t make sense so you can forget about them, and look for specific words which make a statement false. In addition, if you don’t know a question, skip it and come back to it later. Often, answering the other questions helps you remember the answer for the one you had trouble with, and you can go back to it before you complete the test.

5) Relax and don’t stress. This is easier said than done. But test anxiety can play a role here. Though CE tests are not usually timed, people feel some stress because they know their license depends on their passing. However, just remind yourself that you can take the test over as many times as you need to in order to pass. So it’s not the end of the world if you have to retake it.

In addition to these basic tips and strategies, also try to keep up with the latest laws and trends in the field of insurance. The more you know about what’s happening in your field, the better general and specific knowledge you will have. This will not only help you pass the CE exams, but also help you be a better agent and apply the information to your own insurance career.

Good luck on your next CE exams! You’ll do great!

 

Making Insurance CE More Meaningful

how to make insurance ce more meaningfulContinuing Education is a requirement in order to keep up-to-date on the latest insurance laws and trends, as well as some of the changes in products available to customers. You know it’s important, but how can you find a way to enjoy it? Here are a few tips to get more out of your continuing education requirements while still learning what you need to know.

1) Think about the law and the requirements and what they mean to you. It is important not only to know the law but to know how it applies to the particular kind of insurance you sell in your career. So choose CE courses in Ethics which address this area. Take courses which sound interesting but still address the more important aspects of the law.

2) Think about your future career. What do you hope to do with your insurance career in the future? Take courses that are not only necessary but also highly beneficial to your career as an insurance agent. For example, if you are specializing in property insurance or special lines, make sure to take a course dealing with these topics. The more you are exposed to information and knowledge about your chosen area, the more you will improve the career skills that will propel you forward.

3) Take courses you don’t want to. While this seems contradictory to the title of this post, it actually is more fun sometimes because you are challenging yourself to learn a new area of insurance you didn’t know about before or didn’t like. While it is fine to take courses just on what you want to do in your career, taking courses that stretch your thinking are often the most beneficial in the long run.

4) Think about what your clients want or need. As with any business, in the insurance field you want to try to get information that will help your clients. CE courses are an excellent way to do this. Simply think about the types of questions your clients or prospects usually have about insurance and take courses that will help you answer these questions. If a client wonders about the security of their health insurance information or how they can lower their costs, take courses dealing with HIPAA and health plan information. If they want to add life insurance to their current policy, take courses that deal with insurance riders and add-ons. When you realize how you’re applying what you’re learning to real-world situations, CE course requirements become more interesting.

5) Look for ways to improve your knowledge. After you have taken what is essential, take something you are really interested in that will improve your knowledge base. There is a variety of courses to choose from in Insurance CE. Just browse through the course offerings and think about what you’d like to become an expert in, or simply know more about.

To get more out of your continuing education, reflect on your clients’ concerns as well as your personal goals and take courses that will enhance your learning in these areas. With a little effort you may find yourself enjoying this annual requirement. One note: many states allow you to “roll over” your coursework to the next year if you go over the amount of course hours you need. So, if you feel really ambitious this year, take extra credits. Remember, it’s your career. Be the best you can be and have fun!

3 Tips for Beating Test Anxiety

Many people experience some fear or nervousness when sitting down to take a test. This is a natural response to knowing your work is being evaluated. It can even help you do your best by giving you extra energy and heightening your attention. Test anxiety becomes a problem, though, when it interferes with your performance. Your mind going blank or an inability to concentrate will only hurt your score.

The best way to meet test anxiety head-on is of course to be prepared. Knowing how many hours you’ve spent mastering the material and being able to tell yourself that you’ve learned it inside and out will help you counter your fears with true confidence in your knowledge and abilities. But for some this isn’t enough to make that nervous edge go away, and so here are a few simple things you can add to your test prep routine.

1. Eat Healthy Before the Test

Choose fresh fruit or a salad on the day of the test. Vitamin C will help reduce stress hormones, so citrus, strawberries, and dark greens make good choices. Protein like turkey or chicken can also help you feel calm and ready. A cup of chamomile tea before you go to bed the night before the test may help you sleep better.

Many of the things you know you shouldn’t be eating anyway will make your anxiety worse, including processed and snack foods, foods made with white flour, red meat, anything fried, chocolate, and soda. Don’t have that extra cup of coffee in an attempt to wake up: drinking more caffeine than you’re used to can add to your stress. Sugar will boost your mood briefly, but then cause you to crash and interfere with your concentration.

2. Breathe

It sounds too simple to work, but you may be surprised at how breathing deeply and intentionally can help you re-center. Sit up straight and slowly breathe in, paying attention to how the air is filling your lungs and abdomen. Hold for a few seconds, and then exhale, again slowly. Repeat until you calm down. You may also want to try breathing into your hands as they’re cupped over your mouth, or deeply breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Don’t force your breath but just observe it instead.

If this works for you, you may want to research other breathing exercises or meditation/mindfulness techniques to add to your stress-busting toolbox. More and more studies are showing the benefits of these practices.

3. Chew Gum During the Test

This sounds like a weird tip, but there’s real science behind it. Researchers in Australia found that chewing gum can alleviate stress, going beyond just distracting you to actually lowering stress hormones. Other studies in the UK and Germany have showed that chewing gum helps with memory retrieval. The US military has even distributed gum to troops to help them relieve tension and stay focused.

Why does this work? It may be that the chewing action and increased saliva help to improve blood flow and get more oxygen to the brain.

None of these tips will replace having actually done the work of learning the material, but they are extra tools that can help you calm your jitters and do your best.

Guides to Growing Your Insurance Career

Grow Insurance CareerUnfortunately, these books won’t help you earn more continuing education credits, but they will help you push your career forward. All of them contain specific, valuable advice on what’s worked for other people: no dry textbooks here. It’s well worth making the time to at least give them a look, even if you can’t go cover to cover. The next time you want to get a little reading done, consider setting aside that thriller or romance that’s had your attention: after all, what could be more exciting than your potential for success?

How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling
by Frank Bettger

This is a classic not just in the insurance field, but in business in general. It shares the secrets of how in about ten years Bettger turned himself from a failed insurance salesman to a wealthy man who was one of the best-paid insurance professionals in the US. For Bettger, the key to success lies in your presence and style, your enthusiasm and your confidence. He uses helpful anecdotes to illustrate his points and provides step-by-step guidance. This book will not only enable you to increase your profits and work more efficiently, it will also make you a prized agent within your company.

Power Position Your Agency: A Guide to Insurance Agency Success
by Troy Korsgaden

This book is for agents who find themselves working too hard for too little: spending countless hours on paperwork and driving around to clients without the sales to make the gruntwork worth it. Korsgaden provides concrete strategies that will help you improve your situation quickly. His advice is geared towards getting more leads, getting them to come to your office, and getting meetings done quickly. Korsgarden has also shared his wisdom in seminars with agents across the country.

Increase Your Insurance Sales, Retention & Referrals Now!!!
by Melvin Pierre

Pierre’s enthusiasm is evident right from the title, and it’s that passion that many have loved about this book. He reminds agents why they chose this business in the first place and how their work helps real families. But he’s not all cheerleading: Pierre provides practical, to-the-point advice that will make sales happen for you. If you don’t have time to read the whole thing right away, just start with the section on Overcoming Objections. Both new agents and old veterans will want to dive back into their work after finishing this book.

How I Built A $37 Million Insurance Agency In Less Than 7 Years
by Darren Sugiyama

Sugiyama’s mantra is clarity: with focus and know-how, we can achieve great things. In an enjoyable, conversational style, he takes you through his journey of building a successful company, emphasizing the real steps that you can take yourself. Topics covered include the important details like what to wear to systems that can change your business for the better by increasing profits and efficiency. Readers have praised Sugiyama for real information and a no-nonsense attitude.

Learning Opportunities: What Do You Want to Learn?

By Shelley A. Gable

Every state requires insurance continuing education. Your attitude toward that education requirement determines how much you benefit from it. Do you view it as an opportunity? Or just another item on your growing to do list?

The reality is that you (or your employer) is paying for it regardless of your attitude. And in any case, you’re the one spending the time to complete the class. So why not make the most of it? Viewing it as an opportunity allows insurance ce to be a rich source of professional development.

What are your professional goals?

First think long term…maybe ten years out. Do you want to be a sales manager? What skills and knowledge do you need to acquire to be eligible for that position? Maybe you need to meet certain licensing requirements or build strengths in specific skills.

Think short term as well…maybe one year out. Is there an additional type of product you’d like to be licensed in, so you can become more valuable to your organization and increase your income potential? Is there a new law that you know will impact your work?

Here’s another angle to consider: What are you an expert in?

If you’re part of an agency with a dozen agents, what makes you special? Are you the go-to person for anything? If not, you may want to consider selecting an area of your work that interests you and gaining the knowledge needed to establish yourself as an expert. Being the one others defer to on a topic can do wonders for your credibility overall and may help advance your career.

Write down your goals.

Almost any book or article that offers advice for setting goals recommends that you write them down.

Why do you need to write them down?

  • To remember what they are
  • To look back to them for inspiration
  • To build a sense of commitment

Another advantage of writing down your goals is that it makes it easier to map out a plan. Though it can be helpful to create a detailed plan for your professional development, just capturing some of the basic elements of a plan initially can help move you in the right direction. At a minimum, start by thinking about:

  1. What are your goals (short and long term)?
  2. What specific types of skills and knowledge must you develop to achieve those goals?
  3. What specific actions must you take to develop those skills and knowledge?

How can insurance continuing education help you achieve these goals?

Now that you’ve identified the skills and knowledge you need in order to meet your short and long term goals, select insurance continuing education courses that help bring you closer to those goals. When it comes to insurance ce offerings, you have options. And with online training, you aren’t limited to options that are compatible with your schedule.

When perusing a course catalog, take a few extra minutes to view all your options. Read through the course descriptions and select courses that best align with your goals and interests. Taking advantage of online insurance ce courses to further your professional development will not only help you achieve your goals, but it should also help motivate you when completing the course.

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Shelley A. Gable is an instructional designer and freelance writer. She has developed training for functions such as financial services, call centers, and engineering education. Shelley writes articles on topics related to training and management for print and online publications. Visit Shelley’s website at http://shelleygable.wordpress.com.

Online Learning, Memory, and Aging

By Shelley A. Gable

WebMD reports that many people start to notice decreased memory performance in their 50s. We all know to expect physiological changes as we age. As early as our 20s we begin to lose some brain cells, and our bodies start to make less of the chemicals needed to generate new brain cells.

When experts talk about decreasing memory performance, they’re usually referring to the ability to learn something new. As my grandfather approached his 90s, he could easily tell stories from earlier in his life with surprising detail, despite the fact that conversations from earlier in the day seemed fuzzy. This is pretty common.

With an aging workforce, what does this mean for continuing education and online learning?

Despite the toll that aging typically has on learning, there are habits we can develop earlier in our lives to help make learning easier. We can apply these productive habits to online insurance ce courses.

Think critically about the information presented to you.

Rote memorization rarely leads to actual learning. In order to learn something well enough to recall it later, you must think about newly learned knowledge in a way that is meaningful to you personally.

According to a study that compared the ability of younger and older adults to memorize words, older participants tended to be less likely learn these words in a way that was meaningful. In one condition of the study, researchers asked participants to memorize words, without providing any specific instructions for doing so. In this situation, younger participants recalled significantly more words than older participants. In a second condition, researchers asked participants to make judgments about the words. In this situation, the memory difference between younger and older participants was significantly less. This study’s findings support the importance of thinking critically about the content being learned and suggest that older participants were less likely do that without being prompted.

So how does this relate to online insurance continuing education?

When completing an online course, go beyond reading the words on the screen. Proactively think about how the information you’re learning might impact your job, and apply that information on the job as soon as possible. Take notes to organize the information in a way that makes sense to you. Go out of your way to discuss newly learned information with a colleague.

All of these activities prompt you to think critically about your newly learned knowledge and reframe it in a way that applies directly to your world. This strengthens the connection between new information and the knowledge you already have, which should make newly learned information easier to recall later.

Proceed at a comfortable pace.

The speed at which we can take in and process new information slows as we age. In other words, if a large amount of new information is presented quickly, we’re likely to miss more as we grow older. Fortunately, one of the advantages of online learning is that you control the pace. If you need an extra few seconds to read everything on the screen and think through its implications, you can take all the time you need.

Slow the effects of aging on memory.

In addition to the productive learning habits described above, other healthy habits can help keep your mind sharp well into your golden years. Managing stress, although sometimes easier said than done, can do wonders for both mental and physical health. Getting the sleep you need is also important, since memories are solidified during slumber. And of course, regular exercise and a healthy diet are critical, as both play a role in providing the brain with the fuel it needs to function properly.

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Need your Insurance Continuing Education?..Click here to take your continuing education classes online.

Shelley A. Gable is an instructional designer and freelance writer. She has developed training for functions such as financial services, call centers, and engineering education. Shelley writes articles on topics related to training and management for print and online publications. Visit Shelley’s website at http://shelleygable.wordpress.com.

4 Reasons We Procrastinate – And What You Can Do about It

By Shelley A. Gable

What type of procrastinator are you? A few people out there almost never procrastinate…but they’re a rare breed. For some, putting off tasks until “tomorrow” is a way of life. Others drag their feet on tasks they wish to avoid.

Insurance continuing education is a common victim of procrastination. However, delaying the completion of insurance ce requirements is risky. In addition to being a valuable source of professional development, insurance ce is critical for staying up-to-date in the field and maintaining eligibility to do your job.

We all know that we shouldn’t procrastinate, but we find ourselves slipping into it anyway. Its consequences are well-known – tasks pile up, less time to get things done, increased stress, missed opportunities – so by procrastinating, we knowingly put ourselves in harm’s way.

Why do we do this?

Procrastination Rationale #1: You don’t feel like completing that online insurance ce course today, but you assume you’ll feel motivated to do it later.

It can be challenging to focus when you’re not in the mood to do something, but much of this is driven by your attitude. It might be helpful to remind yourself of why you signed up for a particular course in the first place. Does the course relate to an updated law that impacts your job? Does it relate to a type of product that you can start selling (and earn commission from) after you complete the licensing requirements?

Regardless of what you feel like doing, commit to completing the first 15 minutes of the course. You may find that once you get started, you’re able to find your groove and complete the course.

Procrastination Rationale #2: You believe you work best under pressure.

Some people enjoy the thrill of sprinting to get something done at the last minute. Regardless of your ability to perform other tasks in a pinch, experts agree that we just don’t learn well that way. Cramming doesn’t work, because the brain is only capable of processing a limited amount of information at a time. That’s why taking periodic breaks during a course can actually help us retain more. But if you’re in a hurry to complete a course, there may be little time for breaks.

Procrastination Rationale #3: You look for distractions.

You might not even realize that you’re seeking out distractions, but have you ever decided to check your email again right before starting something? Or perhaps out of nowhere, you decide that now is the time to finally clean your desk (because obviously you can’t complete an online insurance ce course at a cluttered desk!).

If you’re guilty of this, consider scheduling time for online learning, just as you would schedule any appointment. Then commit to starting the course at the scheduled time. To reduce the potential for distraction, close your email, silence your phone (maybe even put it somewhere out of reach), and don’t open any web browser windows beyond what you need for the online course. If the thought of being cut off from the world like this is a distraction in itself, you might allow yourself a couple minutes to peek at your messages every 15-20 minutes.

Procrastination Rationale #4: You’re genuinely busy.

Let’s be realistic. If your calendar is packed with meetings and you’re being taunted by a towering stack of paperwork on your desk, then insurance continuing education probably feels like a lower priority. Many people find that their workload ebbs and flows, so it probably makes sense to complete an online class when your schedule is less busy. But if hectic is the usual state of affairs, then insurance ce needs to be squeezed in somewhere.

As discussed earlier, scheduling learning time (and committing to that schedule) can help in this situation too. Another option is to complete the course in smaller chunks. If you can’t spare an hour to complete an entire online course, then plan to complete it in 15-minute snippets between commitments.

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Interested in sales?  Perhaps Insurance, Real Estate, or Finance is your calling..  Click here to get licensed.

Need your Insurance Continuing Education?..Click here to take your continuing education classes online.

Shelley A. Gable is an instructional designer and freelance writer. She has developed training for functions such as financial services, call centers, and engineering education. Shelley writes articles on topics related to training and management for print and online publications. Visit Shelley’s website at http://shelleygable.wordpress.com.

Online Continuing Education on the Rise

By Shelley A. Gable

Where do you stand with taking online insurance continuing education courses? You probably fall into one of three groups:

  1. Early Adopters – you’ve been enjoying the flexibility of online learning for years
  2. Recent Users – you’ve just started testing the online learning waters
  3. Interested Scouts – you’re still looking into online learning to determine whether its worth your while

Your use of online training is likely dependent not only on your comfort with the technology, but also on your state’s acceptance of it. Like the readers of this blog, state insurance departments also span the groups above. With the growing credibility and popularity of online coursework, more states are falling into the first two groups.

Why is online learning so darn popular?

Some people struggle with the idea of trading the classroom experience for online training. It’s understandable. Almost all of us went through school in a traditional classroom setting. We’re used to the classroom, so it feels predictable and comfortable.  Many state insurance departments may have felt similarly, but the tides are changing. While several states have embraced online learning for years, Texas and Utah both adjusted their insurance ce requirements earlier this year to be more accepting of online courses (sometimes referred to as “classroom equivalent”).

Online learning is effective. Most online courses are written in a straight-forward style that is easy to read and allows you to identify critical information (just as an in-person instructor might emphasize important points). Quiz-like questions throughout a course engage you directly and helps you assess how well you understand the content. This is an advantage over many classroom courses where you’re one of many participants in the class and might not receive individualized feedback.

In an online course, you control the pace so you can spend more time on challenging content and progress through familiar information more quickly, allowing you to determine what to focus on. And since online courses tend to be written by the same types of experts who are invited to present in the classroom, you can feel confident that you’re still receiving an expert’s perspective on the subject.

Online learning is convenient. Those who have adopted online learning to fulfill insurance ce requirements often praise its convenience. As mentioned previously, you set the pace. If you’re struggling to grasp a complex topic, you can spend as much time reviewing the content as needed, and even revisit the information again later. Unlike a classroom instructor, an online course will wait if you need to take an urgent phone call.

Don’t have time to spend an entire day sitting in a classroom? Online learning comes to the rescue here, too. You can take segments of an online course over a few (or even several) days, if your busy schedule demands it. Time and place are flexible too. Maybe your best opportunity to learn is first thing in the morning before your co-workers start to arrive to the office. Maybe it’s easier to focus on learning in the comfort of your home, after you’ve tucked in the kids. Either way, online learning is available when you’re ready for it.

What are your experiences with online learning? And which group – early adopters, recent users, or curious scouts – do you belong to? Leave a comment to tell us where you stand!

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Interested in sales?  Perhaps Insurance, Real Estate, or Finance is your calling..  Click here to get licensed.

Need your Insurance Continuing Education?..Click here to take your continuing education classes online.

Shelley A. Gable is an instructional designer and freelance writer. She has developed training for functions such as financial services, call centers, and engineering education. Shelley writes articles on topics related to training and management for print and online publications. Visit Shelley’s website at http://shelleygable.wordpress.com.

Amp Up Learning with a Study Buddy

By Shelley A. Gable

Have you noticed that teachers and college professors often encourage students to form study groups? Whether it’s to study for an exam or simply keep up with what’s being taught in class, many students find that study groups, or even just a single study buddy, can help keep them on track.

Of course, this concept doesn’t just apply to full-time students. You, too, can benefit from having a study buddy to help you keep up with your insurance continuing education requirements or study for that upcoming licensing exam.

Structure

If you’re coordinating your continuing education with a study buddy, you’re likely to create structure for your learning. For instance, you might plan to take certain online courses together every few months. Maybe you meet for lunch every other Tuesday to discuss recent insurance ce courses or study for an exam.

Regardless of how you schedule these activities, the simple fact that they’re scheduled prompts you to approach your professional development more strategically. It also helps you avoid putting off your insurance ce requirements until the last minute so that you’re not stuck cramming too many classes into a short period of time.

Accountability

Coordinating learning activities with a study buddy also holds you accountable for following through. While it might be easy to delay an online course until “next week” for several weeks in a row if no one else is depending on you to get it done, you might feel a bit guilty if this also requires pushing back a meeting with your study buddy every time.

Furthermore, meeting with a study buddy to discuss an online course can help motivate you to pay attention and think critically about what you’re learning. If you’re meeting someone for coffee to discuss what you’ve learned about a recently changed law, you may be more likely look for interesting highlights about the law that you can discuss later. You might even find yourself jotting down the key points of an online course so you can feel more prepared to discuss them, even if you aren’t usually a note taker. Taking the time to think critically about the content in an online course and organizing that information for yourself is critical for ensuring that your new knowledge is saved in long-term memory.

Discussion

How many times have you had an “ah ha!” moment by talking through a situation out loud with someone? Several articles on this blog address the benefits of discussing newly learned knowledge with others. Talking about what you’ve learned from an online course prompts you explain new ideas in your own words and in a context that is relevant for you personally. Listening to someone else do the same can help you see that same information from a new perspective, which can deepen and/or broaden your understanding of a concept.

Another benefit of discussing learning with a study buddy is that it can be more fun and interesting than simply reviewing content on your own. Enjoying your review sessions is not only motivational, but it can also make information easier to remember later.

Peer pressure can be good.

Although peer pressure often has a negative connotation, peer pressure and peer support can be powerful tools in helping you accomplish your goals. If you’re skeptical, give it a try. And please be sure to come back and let us know how it works out!

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Interested in sales?  Perhaps Insurance, Real Estate, or Finance is your calling..  Click here to get licensed.

Need your Insurance Continuing Education?..Click here to take your continuing education classes online.

Shelley A. Gable is an instructional designer and freelance writer. She has developed training for functions such as financial services, call centers, and engineering education. Shelley writes articles on topics related to training and management for print and online publications. Visit Shelley’s website at http://shelleygable.wordpress.com.

4 Time-Wasting Study Habits to Avoid

By Shelley A. Gable

Have you ever wished you had more hours in a day? Between appointments with clients, other professional obligations, and personal priorities, it can be challenging to find time for insurance ce and studying for licensing exams.

When it comes to professional development, use your time wisely. Avoid learning strategies that don’t work.

Below are four time-wasting study habits you should ditch.

Time-wasting study habit #1: Cramming Sessions

Why this study habit is a time-waster…

Regardless of how smart you are, your brain can only process and retain a limited amount of information at a time. If you run a marathon cramming session the day before your licensing exam, only a portion of what you study is likely to make it into your long-term memory.

What you should do instead…

Your brain learns best in short bursts. Start studying well in advance of that insurance licensing exam, and plan to review exam content a couple times a day for 15 minutes at a time. How about once at breakfast and again over lunch? Limiting the amount of information you study in a single sitting helps ensure that most of what you’re reviewing will anchor into your long-term memory. Shorter study times also helps you avoid mental fatigue.

Time-wasting study habit #2: Nothing But Repetition

Why this study habit is a time-waster…

Repetition is a critical component of learning, but you must find ways to make the information you’re repeating meaningful. If you’re doing little more than reciting rules and definitions to yourself, you’re not giving your memory anything concrete to latch onto. You may be able to remember some information this way, but you probably won’t remember everything you need to by using this method alone.

What you should do instead…

Make a concerted effort to think critically about the information you’re trying to learn. Organize the information in ways that make sense to you, find opportunities to apply newly learned knowledge on the job, and discuss what you’re trying to learn with peers or clients. These types of activities go beyond rote memorization and breathe life into information, which should make it easier to remember later.

Time-wasting study habit #3: Sleep Learning

Why this study habit is a time-waster…

Wouldn’t it be great if learning were as easy as playing an audio recording while you sleep? Although there are products on the market that claim to do just this, their effectiveness is not supported by objective research. After all, if this method were backed by the scientific community, it would probably already be widespread on college campuses around the world. Alas, you must complete that online insurance continuing education course during your waking hours.

What you should do instead…

Schedule time to focus on your online course when you’re most likely to be alert and free from distractions. If it’s challenging to find a large chunk of time that meets these qualifications, consider completing the course over multiple sittings. The great thing about online courses is that you set the schedule and pace – if you need to spread the course over a few days because of your busy schedule, you can.

Time-wasting study habit #4: Brain Training Games

Why this study habit is a time-waster…

Many brain-training games claim to improve memory and brain functioning, but experts have been skeptical about this for a while. A recent study in published in Nature and covered by a plethora of major media outlets such as NPR, the Associated Press, BBC News, and others, suggests that this isn’t quite true. While brain training might improve your performance on the specific task you’re practicing, research does not support the idea that it can help improve memory in other ways.

What you should do instead…

To improve your ability to remember what you learn from online insurance continuing education courses, practice the productive study habits described above and in other posts on this blog.

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Shelley A. Gable is an instructional designer and freelance writer. She has developed training for functions such as financial services, call centers, and engineering education. Shelley writes articles on topics related to training and management for print and online publications. Visit Shelley’s website at http://shelleygable.wordpress.com.