2 Methods of Cumulative Learning While Studying For Your Firefighter Promotional Exam

While working on your firefighter promotional exam prep, it is easy to go from one study subject to the other without thinking much about what you learned prior. The best way to truly learn, however, is to combine and connect everything you are learning through cumulative learning.

Cumulative Learning Explained

Cumulative learning is, “the cognitive process by which we accumulate knowledge and abilities that serve as building blocks for subsequent cognitive development.” This means, making connections between what you have learned previously to what you are learning currently to further enhance your knowledge and understanding of the subject matter. For example, as a firefighter this would mean taking what you know as an entry level firefighter and building upon it by connecting that information to what you are learning as you study to promote. You are bringing what you already know to the forefront of your brain instead of just forgetting it and learning the new material. This doesn’t just relate to fire fighting material either. I am sure you already have plenty of other areas of knowledge from college and life experiences that you should bring with you to build upon as you study to promote. 

How to Learn Cumulatively 

  1. Spaced Practice

Spaced practice is an excellent way to build on what you already know. Spaced practice is, “the idea that practicing a particular skill or retrieving particular information is more effective when spread over time, rather than repeated sequentially over a short period of time.” The key to spaced practice is to space out the time between your studying of the material and reviewing or quizzing yourself on that same material. The more time the better. For example you can start your study session by testing yourself on the material from a previous study session, once that is done review new material that you will then test yourself on during a different study session. Spaced practice helps you incorporate all kinds of varying material in one study session making it easier for you to form connections between them all. Take the time to think about how the stuff you are reviewing relates and connects to what you are looking at for the first time. Make connections between old and new. This will help you better understand and remember what you are learning, ultimately helping you pass your firefighter promotional exam. 

  1. Repetition Through Self-Testing

A great way to cumulatively learn is through repetition. Studying something you already know is not a waste of time because it can be forgotten if not recalled. You always want to be going back and reviewing material even if you think you have mastered it. This repetition of old material is a way to make connections between what you learned in chapter one and the final chapter, for example. Repetition is also a good way to make sure nothing is forgotten as you study more and more material. Keeping bringing back the old. You don’t want to review everything every study session because that would be too overwhelming of course. Just pick a few previous topics to review each study session. Self-testing through the use of online practice tests, flashcards, and self-made quizzes are an excellent way to do just that. 

The Takeaway

The only way to remember and truly learn what you are studying for your firefighter promotional exam is to learn cumulatively. You need to connect the old to the new through the use of repetition and spaced practice. You do not just want to memorize so you can pass your firefighter promotional exam, you want to learn and retain so you can not only pass the exam but excel once promoted.