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10 Study Hacks For Online Medical Certification

10 Study Hacks For Online Medical Certification

Photo of Greta

by Greta Kviklyte

Life Saver, AMC
Co-authored by Kim Murray, RN, M.S.

posted on Feb 18, 2016, at 9:41 pm


FINAL EXAMS ARE HARD. Studying for your ACLS (advanced cardiac life support), BLS (basic life support) and PALS (pediatric advanced life support) certification exams is an unavoidable, and often dreaded, part of successful online certification. If you have an online certification exam coming up, don’t take the boring, traditional route of studying and use these fool-proof study hacks to make the studying process more enjoyable and effective!

10 study hacks you need to pass your online certification exam

#1 memorize the Algorithms

Understanding the many Algorithms of ACLS, BLS and PALS certification courses is one of the most challenging parts of passing the final exam. However, memorizing the Algorithms is a crucial step. Algorithms, in short, are flowcharts of protocols to take when handling specific emergency cardiac situations. Make memorizing these Algorithms the highest priority, as these are often the difference between life and death in the real world.

There are several Algorithms to review, which should be covered in your online certification course lectures. Some of these include: V-Fib, V-Tach, PEA, Tachycardia and Bradycardia. To review the AHA ACLS Algorithms, you can click here.

#2 take practice tests

Online practice exams are another essential to successfully passing your online certification final exam. There are tons of practice exam options on the web, just be sure to choose the one that best correlates with your exam, so if your online provider has their own set of questions, use those most often.

ACLS, BLS and PALS practice exams will represent the aspects of the course you are having a hard time understanding, and can act as an incentive for you to review this material more. In addition, practice exams mock the way the actual final exam will be set up, providing a platform for better timing and accuracy.

Check out our online ACLS, BLS and PALS practice tests!

#3 eat “brain foods”

Snack on foods specifically good for concentration and brain health. Keep your grey matter happy and healthy with these foods:

Brain Foods To Eat While Studying

#4 don’t study alone

If you have other co-workers who are also in the process of studying for their online certification or recertification course final exams, try studying together! The more people, the more information and more topics will probably be discussed with others. You can quiz one another, and many find group study sessions to be more relaxing than studying alone!

If you work in a facility with several people in need of certification or recertification, consider certifying as a group! We currently offer group rate discounts for those wanting multiple certifications. This is a great opportunity to study with others, as you would be taking courses designed and taught by the same online course providers.

You can click here for more information on our group rates.

#5 use mnemonic devices

Mnemonic devices are helpful memorization tools, especially for those studying for online ACLS certification exams. There are several already created mnemonic devices specific to certification courses on the Internet, but you could also create your own if needed.

You wouldn’t want to memorize: “transcutaneous pacer, atropine, epinephrine, dopamine” without at least a little practice. These terms, however, are imperative to remember as an ACLS provider facing a patient with symptomatic bradycardia. By using a mnemonic, you can better remember the key steps in bradycardia with the phrase: “Pacing Always Ends Danger”. Observe the first letter in each word and reference the identifiable terms that are associated with each word. In this case, “Pacing” prompts transcutaneous pacing, “Always” prompts atropine, “Ends” prompts epinephrine, and “Danger” prompts dopamine.
For more mnemonic devices (ACLS specific), we like the contributions found on this forum!

#6 teach some friends (or your stuffed animals)

If you can, teach a friend or family member the material you learn. Simply saying the information out loud will help you to better retain concepts.

If you don’t have anyone willing to listen to you blab on about pharmaceutical drugs, teach your stuffed animals or pets! They won’t listen, but let’s face it, your friend might not listen either.

#7 use an “anti-distraction” program

Everyone gets distracted while studying – it’s inevitable. If you are like the masses, the Internet is one of the most distracting things, as it is filled with hours of Facebook feeds and Pinterest recipes you just have to know all about.

If the “fun side” of the Internet is too distracting to resist, you can download programs and apps, such as Cold Turkey, Freedom and SelfControl. These applications block distracting websites and social media sites, and quite literally, force you to study.

#8 use a manual and color code

If you are a visual learner, studying with a manual is a great way to help guide you through ACLS, BLS and PALS lectures. If your chosen provider offers corresponding manuals, take advantage of the opportunity!

If you feel as though you need to write notes out during the lecture, you can use different colored pens or highlighters. Color code your notes based on subject, themes or whatever makes the most sense to you.

Advanced Medical Certification offers PDF manuals for all of our courses, which can be purchased during checkout.

#9 use the Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is an ingenuous learning method that has been proven to help students study and simply get more done. Essentially, you can write down a list of things you need to study for your online certification exam. Get a timer and set to 25 minutes. In that 25 minutes, work diligently to get the first “task” you listed out done, without any distraction. After the 25 minutes, let it go for the day, and take a 5-10 minute break. You can stretch, walk or make a snack! Then, check off the completed task and move on to the next task, (following the same pattern until the list is complete).

Here’s an example of how the Pomodoro Technique can be used: Let’s say you’re a ICU nurse studying for your PALS renewal exam. You first write out a list of all subjects you need to study for that day. You write a list like this:

  • Resuscitation Tools
  • Respiratory Distress or Failure
  • Bradycardia
  • Tachycardia

You set your timer to 25 minutes, and study for “Resuscitation Tools” diligently for those minutes. After you cross if off your list, don’t study that material again that day. Take a five minute break, and move on to “Respiratory Distress or Failure”.

You can read all about the Pomodoro Method here.

#10 take a walk before the final exam

While taking a stroll right before an exam might not seem all that appealing, taking a 10-minute walk or jog before taking a final exam has been proven to boost test scores and increase brain activity.

Get up a go for a brisk walk around the block before the exam, it certainly won’t hurt!

Read up on the study on here.

That’s it! There are 10 new study hacks that are sure to help you pass your online certification exam with flying colors. Comment below with any additional tips you have!

You may also be interested in reading: Nursing School Tips: How to study better, not harder, for nursing final exams and ace every one

About Greta

Greta is a dedicated life saver and a distinguished expert in the field of medical content creation and editing. Her impressive array of certifications in ACLS, CPR, PALS, and BLS underscores her commitment to excellence in the medical field. With over four years of invaluable experience in medical education, Greta plays an indispensable role within the Advanced Medical Certification team, shaping the way healthcare professionals around the world acquire and apply vital knowledge.

Greta's profound expertise serves as the driving force behind the development and distribution of medical content that has significantly enhanced the capabilities of countless healthcare practitioners across the globe.

In addition to her medical qualifications, Greta holds a prestigious academic distinction in Marketing and Global Business from Vilnius University. Her academic journey has been enriched by immersive studies in Slovakia and Portugal during her time as an exchange student, providing her with a global perspective that complements her medical expertise.

Beyond her professional commitments, Greta possesses a genuine passion for global exploration, with a particular focus on immersing herself in diverse cultures and appreciating the intricacies of the natural world. While residing in Vilnius, Lithuania, she continues to make substantial contributions to the field of medical education, leaving an indelible mark on the sector.

Reach out to Greta at


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