One way to get the most of your studying for the NREMT exam is to set objectives for yourself. Textbooks are not written like novels; you don’t read one from beginning to end. A textbook is designed to be more of a reference. You read only the sections that you need to read to gain comprehension or understanding. But how do you know which sections to look at?

Textbook authors base what they write about on objectives. An objective is a statement that describes some idea or principle that you should have learned from the course. For example, your EMT textbook might have an objective regarding bleeding that looks like this one:

Differentiate between arterial, venous, and capillary bleeding.

This objective focuses on how arterial bleeding tends to look bright red and spurts from a wound, whereas venous bleeding tends to be dark red in color and flows steadily. Finally, capillary bleeding tends to be minor and oozes from a wound.

Each of your textbook chapters has a list of objectives somewhere in it, usually at the beginning. In addition, your course syllabus should have a list of learning objectives. You should be able to elaborate on each one with some specificity, meaning with some detail.

You’ll definitely come across objectives that you won’t be able to answer with confidence or with detail. That’s normal. An EMT course covers a lot of objectives, and you aren’t expected to get them all at once. If you aren’t able to explain an objective while you’re studying, look it up in your textbook or your notes.

Some textbooks conveniently list the chapter pages that relate to each objective. If that’s not the case, you may have to skim through the chapter to find the paragraphs related to the objective.

Simply reading a chapter from beginning to end, without knowing exactly what you’re supposed to get out of it, may not be the most effective way of solidifying your understanding. Studying by objective can help you focus on the materials and may make information easier to organize in your head. You’ll concentrate on what you don’t know, rather than what you do know.

Another way to focus on less-familiar concepts is to take an assessment exam. Take the test without assistance and don’t flip the pages to see the answers. When you score yourself, pay attention to the questions that gave you problems.