Tough Course upcoming! Any advice?


Hi Everybody,

I’ve been lurking around here for a few months and had a few questions for you all. I’ll be taking a course in a few months that is one of the most intense my career field offers. Knocking it out of the park will mean great things for my career.

Tests during the course on “samples of behavior” (or SOB) of which there might be 100 in a block of ten hours of lecture. A sample of behavior might be “define basics of X” “identify difference between X and Y” “describe X Y and Z and how they are related” etc. Each SOB may have one definition, it may have three definitions, it may be something more exquisite. I saw one SOB had a 30 part table of information

Here is what I mean by intense.
8:00am to 6:00pm Lecture
7:00am to 8:00am next day - Test on Previous day’s Samples of Behavior
8:00am to 6:00pm New Lectures
7:00am to 8:00am next day - Test

There are times where there could be two days of lecture followed by a test.

Tests are a short answer format, so if the SOB is “define basics of X” you literally have to do that. Additionally there are occiasional “Stand Up” days where you have to stand up in front of an instructor and they will quiz you randomly on SOBs (and will especially quiz you on areas you may have missed on the test). This is to prevent a “cram then dump” mentality.

Why this is considered intense in my opinion: there could be up to 300 unique pieces of information given to you in a day, which you are tested on the next day. The tests, being typically an hour long, can only cover so much, so you have to remember everything. The answers don’t have to be exact, but the more conceptually correct, the higher the score. They give you the SOBs up front as part of the initial lecture.

I’ve spoken with many individuals who have taken the course. Typically what ends up happening is they first write out each SOB and the answer. Then they write it again. From here I’ve heard some people write it out a third time then begin quizzing themselves (like a flash card set). I’ve also heard, write out twice and then quiz. Finally, most students who have taken the class have stated they only have time to write and review only enough until you can recall an answer once without aid.

The biggest challenge they continually list is TIME. When you are done with class at 6pm, you have to eat food which might take 30 min. Then you head straight to studying. From what I hear, if you’ve taken great notes, you might have only a couple SOBs left to write out; it’s apparently difficult to keep up with all of them during lecture. So you may spend another 30 writing SOBs ‘flash cards’ from course material. By then it’s 7pm and you’ve got work to do. I’ve talked to a few folks who averaged 4 hours of sleep per night! Studying from 7pm-11pm then waking up at 3am to study until the test (8hrs of study). I personally want to sleep more than that. If I got 6 hours of sleep, that would be enough.

For what it’s worth, I think nobody I’ve talked to know memory techniques used in this forum.

Part of this post is cathartic, I need to talk about it and writing helps relieve some of the stress. The other part is I want you all to tell me I have a good strategy going into this. So here it is.

(1) Write out the SOBs, ensuring each SOB has defined imagery. (1a) If it’s a list of a number of items, attach my corresponding Major System image with the list. I think this will take a majority of my time, maybe half my time or more. (2) Study each SOB’s imagery, mainly using the story method to make the image as “sticky” as possible. (3) Test each SOB, bring the story to life.

Art of Memory techniques used to enhance the above: (A) Major System for memorizing numbers and List lengths (already accomplished!), (B) Memory Palaces for lists, © Stressed syllable emphasis for words/terms I am unfamiliar with, (D) Story method for most facts

Success in this course will have open incredible opportunities in my career, those that have graduated with distinction become the top of the top. I can’t wait to get started and have two months left to prepare. Do you all have any tips that might make this easier on me? Any critiques? Should I practice any techniques in particular to have a greater effect?

One of my largest concerns is this turns into a Cramming session rinse and repeat; and that I may give up on all the memory techniques I’ve practiced in the past three months. Any advice for sticking to the techniques? Finally, there will be LOTS of acronyms thrown at me in this course, any tips for memorizing acronyms?


Could you give us an example of a SOB and the “basics of x”?


Yes definitely, here are a few examples from a similar course.

SOB: Identify the difference between decibels and traditional numbers
Answer: A decibel is a logarithmic unit of measurement expressing the magnitude of a physical quantity and substitutes small numbers for large. Traditional numbers are linear.

SOB: Explain how decibel math simplifies power calculations
Answer: Decibel math allows the use of addition and subtraction instead of multiplication and division.

SOB: Describe antenna gain, beamwidth and antenna efficiency
Answer: Antenna gain is the ability of an antenna to concentrate its radiated power. Beamwidth is the angular width of a beam. Antenna efficiency is the ratio of the total radiated power to the total input power.

SOB: Describe sources of noise, signal attenuation, and space loss
Answer: Noise can be any undesired disturbance within a frequency band of interest: antenna equipment, antenna temperature, noise from nature, noise from the Sun, earth thermal noise, noise from precipitation. Signal attenuation is caused by rainfade, ions in the tropospher, and foliage; the rate of attenuation depends on the frequency. Space loss comes from the length of space between two antennas

As you can see, some are simple, some less so…


Hey Everybody,

I’m still reading/learning a ton from this forum and I thought I would try and update on my progress for this course. I read one thread where one regular user commented that people come with questions like mine above and then never come back. I wanted to break the mold and hopefully provide some more of a resource for people with tough courses. Here’s the start. If people enjoy it, I may keep updating as the course progresses.

In preparation for my upcoming course, we had about 8 hours of computer learning with a test at the end. Since it was a work from home, we could have notes, but I decided since it wouldn’t be like the real thing, I would apply my techniques to what I needed to know. I took the test yesterday, it was a 25 question multiple choice. I estimated there was about 200 pieces of information I needed to know in various forms, 100 of which I had some advance knowledge. I scored 100%! I’m super pumped to get started off on the right foot. Here’s what I learned.

It is HARD to make a memory palace based on abstract information. I had much more success using a version of the link method/story method. I don’t know if that’s because of a lack of practice with memory palaces or what but the stories turned out better.

For example, I was required to “know the different bands of electro-magnetic spectrum used for satellite applications.” The bands are L, S, C, X, Ku, K, Ka, V in order from left to right on frequency. My story ended up being more of a classic mnemonic: Liam (neeson) Sells Carbon Crosses to Kunts Killing Kangaroos Viciously. This helped on the test as I was asked kind of “choose the one in the middle out of these options” which with my story I was able to do pretty easily.

For example, I had to learn about the different classifications of Bombs. Demolition, General Purpose, Penetration, and Fragmentation. You can order these by explosive weight as a percentage of overall weight. Having done that, I created a story about how a ‘demo on for the general, was cancelled because we was sore from penetrating, which resulted in his hair fragging out’. There was information in the story about explosive weight based on the major system as well. When asked on the test I had my story and was able to choose the right bomb.

I could have used a journey for the above but for me it seemed easier to just make stories. Maybe that’s just me and that could change over the next few weeks/months as the information gets more complicated.

One thing I found helpful about these techniques it helped lower my FIRST uptake of the information, but did not eliminate the need for active recall. In the past, I would have to repeat/attempt to recall something 4-5 times just to get it to stick the first time. Then I would still have to repeat 2-5 times more to be ready for a test. In this case, that would mean recalling 100 pieces of information would take a total of 600 to 1000 repeats total to be ready for a test. With my stories, I would get the sticking down to 1 or 2 times only, then a repeat of maybe 1 to 2 times. That makes a 100 piece test to a 400 repeats max with min closer to 200 repeats. The bomb example above is a great example. The info boils down to 12 item table. I made the story, repeated it once, and was ready for the test.

THIS IS HUGE. This means mastery (test prep/study) could take 60-80% less time. I think that’s my biggest finding.

Anyways, I have a prep course in June, with the tough course in July. If there’s any interest, I may be able to update this once a week with my progress. If so besides various questions, I would update next after the first week in June.