Test taking tips for VA accreditation and beyond

By Mary Markovich

Affordable VA Accreditation Training

This step-by-step guide is written specifically for those students who are preparing to take the VA accreditation test. The examples given relate to VA law. However, anyone studying and preparing to take any test will find this information helpful.

Some of the theories and concepts in this paper are tools I learned first-hand from my own years as a test taker. Many of the examples you will see are from my experience in studying for the LSAT, GMAT, bar exam and various other tests I took while earning two graduate degrees.

For six years, I taught online and traditional college courses for adults. Some of the test strategies and techniques are principles I taught thousands of my students.

My husband died at an early age, and I entered law school as a single mother of seven minor children. You may be in the same situation I was in: having a family to care for and not having the luxury of spending many study hours in the library.

In later articles in the series, I will explain some of the techniques I learned about how to study when you have just a little time. You can be very productive in the time you have allocated for study, if you practice efficient techniques coupled with effective time management.

As I began the process of going from stay-at-home-mom to full time student, I doubted my abilities, and my family doctor, Dr. Frank Leak, counseled me. Prior to entering medical school, his brother died, leaving three minor orphaned children. Dr. Leak, my friend and mentor, entered medical school on the GI Bill while caring for five minor children. Dr. Leak’s sage advice has been a beacon for me to follow. He said, “If I can do it, you can do it. Don’t look at all you have to study. Take it one quiz at a time.”

One step at a time

As you are beginning your test preparation, don’t think of how much you have to study. Just concentrate on one chapter at a time. After you master that chapter, you can move to the next chapter.

Studying for the accreditation test or any other test begins by knowing that this is a mental game in two important ways:
  • The test creator is testing your knowledge; and
  • You are testing your own ability to stretch your mind.
Stretching your mind with new knowledge is analogous to blowing up a balloon. The first time you blow up the balloon, you have to exert a lot of energy, pucker up and blow really hard. Slowly, the balloon expands. If you let the air out, the balloon never returns to its original shape. The next time you start to blow up that same balloon, you do not have to exert as much energy to blow it up.

The first time you view webinar one, it may be new and challenging material. You may have to exert a lot of energy. You are reading the handouts, you are viewing the webinar, you are taking notes during the presentation.

Next, you check the regulations in the U.S. Code and the Code of Federal Regulations, and then you take the sample test. The second time you view the webinar, you are more familiar and comfortable with the material, and you learn more quickly.

Just like the analogy of the balloon, your mind will never return to the state it was in before you expanded your knowledge in webinar one. Understanding the material in webinar two and three will be much easier for you because you have prepared yourself and stretched your mind.