How can I figure out what to study, where to find answers to questions, and retain information?

A. There is no one "magic way" to memorize and retain the vast amount of information in a 500- to 1000-page text. Just experiment and find a system that works for you. Here are some retention improvement tips that might help:

1. Use a highlighter to mark your text in subject areas you suspect might be on the test.

2. Be particularly well versed on any subject that is repeated several times in the text. You will likely see it on the test. Also, be sure to do the labs.

3. Make up your own flashcards. Writing out the information aids retention.

4. Develop acrostics for lists of information you need to recall. For example, if you need to memorize the application, presentation, session, transport, network, data-link, and physical layers of the OSI model, think of it as All Pros Seem To Need Delicious Pizza.

5. Make a list of filenames and their functions that are associated with the topic.

6. Look up anything you need clarification on in the online help for that item, particularly for Win2K. Microsoft dramatically expanded the online help in Win2K.

7. If you need further clarification on a topic, look it up in TechNet.

8. To retain information better, you might need to repeat out loud what you are studying.

9. Print the question, answers, and notes from your test simulations. Put these sheets in a 3-hole notebook and study these questions, answers, and notes. Keep the notebook with you and whenever you have a few spare minutes, look over some questions. After a while, you'll begin to figure out not only the answers but the reasons and concepts too. Have an assistant read test questions to you. Often you might memorize the answer to a question by its location among the answers and not by really knowing why it's the correct answer.

10. Learn to recognize wrong answers on the test. Many of the answers will look very plausible and you must try to pick the correct answers from the incorrect.

11. Find a study partner who also wants to pass the same tests and work together studying.

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