Respiratory therapy school definitely is not easy. Students are under pressure from day one to make good grades, finish homework, complete projects, and perform well during clinical rotations.
Needless to say, RT students deal with their fair share of stress.
However, there are a few ways to make things easier on yourself as you navigate your way through respiratory therapy school. Here are some of our top study tips for students:
1. Know Your Why
The first step to being successful in respiratory therapy school is knowing why you’re pursuing this career.
What’s the reason you decided to enroll in the first place?
Do you want to help others? Do you want to save lives? Are you looking for a fulfilling career that also provides a respectable salary?
You must have a strong reason for why you want to be a respiratory therapist because, let’s face it—it’s not an easy profession.
If your “why” is strong enough, it will be much easier to push through the challenging moments throughout respiratory therapy school.
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2. Study a Little Every Day
One of the best ways to stay on top of your coursework is to study a little bit each day. Sure, there are times when it’s necessary to spend hours preparing for an exam.
However, that is not always the case.
Sometimes it’s much more beneficial to study for a few minutes each day rather than trying to cram everything in the night before an exam.
3. Get Organized
One of the best ways to be successful in respiratory therapy school is to stay organized. Get a planner and write down all of your assignments, exams, and clinical rotations.
This will help you keep track of everything you need to do and make sure you don’t forget anything important.
If your stuff is cluttered, your brain will be too. So, keep your desk clean and your thoughts clear by staying organized.
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4. Don’t Skip Classes
It may be tempting to skip a class here and there, especially if you have a lot of other things going on outside of school.
However, it’s very important to try to attend all of your classes.
The first step to success is simply showing up. You never know when you’ll learn something important or when an exam will be announced.
5. Know Your Learning Style
Everyone learns differently. Some students learn best by listening to lectures, while others retain information better by reading texts or taking notes.
Find out what learning style works best for you, and then try to find ways to incorporate that style into your studies.
If listening to lectures helps you learn, try recording them or taking notes. If reading text is more your style, try highlighting important information or making flashcards.
If you’re a visual learner, you will benefit from watching educational videos on the topic at hand. In fact, our YouTube channel has hundreds of helpful videos that cover some of the most important topics that RT students must learn.
6. Don’t Procrastinate
It’s tempting to put off studying or doing homework, but it’s important to try to avoid procrastination.
The longer you wait to do something, the more difficult it will become. There’s nothing worse than trying to cram for an exam the night before or finish a project that’s due in a few hours.
If you start working on something early, you’ll have more time to complete it, and you’ll likely do a better job. Decreased stress is an added bonus!
7. Rewrite Your Notes
One of the most effective learning strategies is to rewrite your notes. This may seem tedious, but it’s actually a proven method for helping students retain information.
When you take the time to rewrite your notes, you are essentially reinforcing what you learned so that it’s easier for your brain to recall the information later.
So, when test day comes, you’ll be better prepared and more likely to earn a passing score thanks to your diligent note-rewriting habits.
8. Crush It One Night Per Week
One way to make studying more manageable is to set aside one night per week where you focus exclusively on schoolwork.
There should be no distractions, and you can sit down, focus, and study your heart out. This will help you stay on top of your coursework and ensure that you’re prepared for exams.
If you can use this one night to get ahead on your work, you’ll have more free time throughout the week. This will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed, which is great for your mental health.
9. Ask for Help
If you’re struggling with a particular concept or have questions about an assignment, it’s okay to ask for help.
There’s no shame in admitting that you need assistance. Your professors and classmates are there to help you succeed.
It’s better to ask for help than to struggle through something on your own. By seeking assistance, you can get the guidance you need to improve your understanding of the material.
10. Don’t Stress Over the Small Stuff
In the grand scheme of things, a low score on one test or a bad grade in one class is not going to make or break your career.
Of course, you should still strive to do your best, but don’t let the little things get to you. Everyone makes mistakes and has bad days.
The important thing is to learn from your mistakes and keep moving forward. If you dwell on your failures, you’ll only make it harder to achieve success.
11. Form a Study Group
One of the best ways to prepare for exams is to form a study group with your classmates.
When you meet with other students, you can discuss the material, share study tips, and help each other identify areas that need improvement.
Plus, it’s always more enjoyable to study with friends. Just be sure to choose a study group that is serious about getting work done.
This isn’t for everyone, as some students prefer to study alone. But if you work well in groups, this could be a helpful strategy for you.
12. Get Plenty of Sleep
As a respiratory therapy student, sleep is important for your overall health and well-being.
Sleep deprivation can lead to increased stress levels, which can make it more difficult to concentrate and retain essential information.
Therefore, it’s important to get enough sleep so that you’ll have enough energy to make it through your lectures and clinical rotations.
13. Take Breaks
If you find yourself struggling to focus, it may be helpful to step away from your work and take a break.
Go for a walk, listen to music, or do something that will help you relax.
This can refresh your mind and help you return to your studies feeling rejuvenated. Just be sure to keep your breaks short so that you don’t fall too far behind on your work.
14. Create a Schedule
One way to stay on top of your studies is to create a schedule and stick to it.
By setting aside specific times for studying, you can make sure that you’re dedicating enough time to your schoolwork.
Plus, having a set schedule will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed by your coursework and everything else that respiratory therapy students have to deal with. Trust me, a schedule is your best friend.
15. Set Goals
In addition to creating a schedule, it may also be helpful to set goals for yourself.
For example, you could aim to read one chapter of your textbook each day or complete all of your assignments for the week by Friday.
Setting goals can help you stay on track and motivated. Plus, it’s always satisfying to achieve something you’ve been working towards.
16. Reward Yourself
Once you’ve achieved a goal, be sure to give yourself a pat on the back. You deserve it!
You could treat yourself to a new book, take a break from studying to watch your favorite TV show, or go out for drinks with your friends.
No matter what you choose to do, make sure it’s something that you’ll enjoy. Reward yourself—you’ve earned it!
17. Use Practice Questions
If you want to be fully prepared for your exams, you should use practice questions to your advantage. This is one of the most effective methods for learning and retaining important information.
This is true not only for your exams in RT school, but it also applies to the TMC Exam as well. In fact, our bank of practice questions has already helped millions of students worldwide prepare for (and pass) the exam.
So, do yourself a favor and use practice questions to study and learn the information that will be covered on your exams.
18. Avoid Cramming
When it comes to studying, cramming is almost never a good thing. Cramming the night before an exam is not only ineffective, but it can also lead to increased stress levels.
Plus, when you try to cram everything into your brain at once, you’re more likely to forget some of the most important information.
So, instead of cramming, study gradually and consistently throughout the semester. This will help you retain the information better and make exam time a lot less stressful.
19. Implement the 80/20 Principle
The 80/20 principle is a powerful tool that can be used to increase your productivity. In short, the principle states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts.
So, how can you use this to your advantage?
Well, instead of spending all your time studying, focus on the areas that will give you the most bang for your buck.
For example, there are more questions on the TMC exam about mechanical ventilation than on any other topic. Therefore, it would make sense to spend more time focusing on this topic than on subjects that aren’t quite as heavily weighted.
The 80/20 principle can be applied to just about anything in your life, so make sure to use it to your advantage.
20. Start Early
One of the best pieces of advice I can give you is to start preparing for the board exams as early as possible.
There is a ton of information that you will be required to know. Therefore, the sooner you start studying, the better. Even if it’s in small bursts, every little bit helps.
For example, we have a newsletter that sends out sample TMC practice questions on a daily basis.
The questions cover all of the important topics that you are required for passing the exam—including topics that, unfortunately, some students forget to study.
So, by starting early and going through these practice questions every day, students are able to learn and retain helpful tidbits of information over time. This adds up to huge results in the long run.
21. Take Advantage of Free Resources
There are a ton of free resources available to respiratory therapy students, so why not take advantage of them?
For instance, we’ve spent thousands of hours creating a ton of free practice questions and study guides for our students.
It would be wise to use them to your advantage.
Like plenty of other students, you can use our free materials to pass your exams in school while learning the most important information.
This will even help you pass the board exam to become a licensed respiratory therapist. What more could you ask for?
There are a lot of things to consider when it comes to studying for respiratory therapy school. Because, let’s be honest, the journey of becoming a respiratory therapist is definitely not easy.
However, if you use the tips and tricks listed above, you’ll be well on your way to passing your exams to earn the registered respiratory therapist (RRT) credential.
If you need some motivation, be sure to check out our compilation of the most inspirational quotes for respiratory therapists (and students). Thanks for reading!
John Landry, BS, RRT
John Landry is a registered respiratory therapist from Memphis, TN, and has a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. He enjoys using evidence-based research to help others breathe easier and live a healthier life.