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By Dan Limmer

For years I’ve been posting my thoughts about why people fail the NREMT. My main theories have centered on poor preparation or education, reading or attention span issues, and test anxiety. When I speak to a student who has failed the exam one or more times, it’s always challenging to determine which issue is the true cause of the problem. Students are quick to say it’s test anxiety (or to blame the NREMT), but most of the time the root cause is deeper.

I recently spoke with a student who has failed the NREMT multiple times. After asking him the usual questions (how many questions did he time out on with each attempt? how did he do on each section of the NREMT?), I still didn’t have a solid sense of his issue. He told me he studied every day. He told me his schedule, and he said he’d tried most of the exam prep sites out there.

Screenshot 2016-06-07 13.08.48Fortunately, I came into contact with this student through his subscription to our new online NREMT prep site, EMTReview.com.

I instructed him to work through our Interactive Practice Tests and then get back to me. EMTReview.com has one interactive exercise for each section of the NREMT and one on pathophysiology. In each Interactive tests, students respond to 5 questions and then watch a video in which I explain the answer, unpack its rationale, and then provide some exam insights. Real-time feedback.

After following my advice, this student wrote me back and said, “I’ve never looked at a question like that before. It really opened my eyes.” As it turned out, at least one of his issues was that after having been in a class that focused on simple cognitive recall questions, he had no idea how to read and interpret a NREMT-style question.

Then I gave him a second assignment. I asked him to take each of our Diagnostic Tests—we have one for each section of the NREMT. I instructed him to work through each question with a pad of paper next to his keyboard, doing the following:

  • If he got a question wrong or didn’t understand a word or concept in it, he was to write it down and look it up after the exam.
  • Instead of reading the textbook (which he’d already read cover to cover several times over), he was also to listen to the EMT Review Audio Lectures.

For the student, this experience was eye-opening. The review he got—and the new critical thinking skills he learned—were fresh and relevant. Definitely NOT the “same old stuff.”

I can’t guarantee this student will pass. I can guarantee that he’s never had better materials, and that he now has the best chance to pass he’ll ever have.

When I came up with some of the concepts behind our EMTReview.com site, I knew they’d be helpful. Now that I’m seeing it in action, I’m proud that the site is doing what I envisioned it should, and more—truly helping people on their quest to become EMTs.

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