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5 Study Tips for the Upcoming NBC-HWC Exam


Today is an incredibly exciting (albeit nerve wrecking) day for all health and wellness coaches sitting for the fall NBC-HWC exam—it’s the start of the exam period! Thanks to our Rita and Gene Presman Memorial Scholarship Program, we covered the cost of the exam for five fabulous coaches AND offered them, along with any other interested applicants, the chance to participate in our study sessions. 

Led by an NBC-HWC and YourCoach Director of Health Coaching Operations, Ashlee Honeycutt, these sessions featured carefully curated materials to closely mirror real exam questions and access to a community of coaches also pursuing the fall exam. Today, we’re excited to share five important study tips as many coaches enter the home stretch of exam prep. 

Create a study schedule that works for you

Especially as many coaches enter the final few days or weeks before the exam, it’s critical to create a study schedule that works with your existing priorities. Many coaches are parents, have other full or part-time jobs, or are already practicing with a swath of clients. Start by identifying free pockets of time throughout your day. Next, self-reflect to identify which times of day you’re most productive. Do you feel more focused in the mornings or at night? When will you experience the fewest distractions? 

As health coaches, we know accountability is paramount, so once you’ve identified your study windows throughout the week (we would recommend at least 5-10 hours of study time per week leading up to the exam), it’s important to lock them in. Send yourself calendar invites, set your devices to ‘do not disturb’ during this time and even identify an accountability buddy to make sure you stick to your schedule. You’re nearly there, so these last few days really count!

Leverage SMART goals during your study sessions

Health coaches are experts in helping clients identify their SMART goals—and now is a great time for YOU to use this technique to your advantage! Identify a goal that’s specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based during each of your pre-scheduled sessions. For example, make a commitment to refresh yourself on one section of the NBC-HWC content outline during each session; commit to taking a single practice test; or work on memorizing a set number of key terms via index cards. 

By outlining your SMART goals for each session in advance (and using the NBHWC content outline as your guide) you can ensure that you give yourself a thorough refresher of all the info that will be covered on your exam. Not only will this help you prepare, but it will also help you feel more prepared, as achieving each individual goal will increase your self-efficacy and confidence. 

Find (or create!) a study group 

For many health coaches, this might be a difficult feat—but there is certainly no shortage of coaches sitting for the exam each term! For coaches on the YourCoach platform (even those that didn’t apply for the Rita & Gene Presman Memorial Scholarship), the Coaching Community group is a great place to connect with coaches who might be preparing for the exam. Even identifying a virtual study group, where you can exchange tips, materials and best practices, can be hugely effective in helping you prepare for the exam. There are coaches and communities out there to support you—YourCoach is a great place to start.

Reference available resources

Compiling the most accurate and up-to-date study materials is key to acing the exam. The best place to start is, of course, the NBC-HWC content outline. This gives you a strong idea of the breadth of materials that will be covered on the exam so you can identify what you need to focus on (especially in the home stretch). The NBHWC also provides a practice exam and other helpful info to practice for success. 

External resources can be helpful, but expensive. This is where engaging with supportive communities can truly make a major difference—maybe a fellow health coach compiled a great study guide they’re willing to share, or has flash cards they can pass along to you. The YourCoach Coaching Community is a great place to tap into individuals who might be willing to share their resources. 

Practice positive psychology to maintain a healthy mindset

Once all is said and done, and you’ve studied as much as you possibly can, the absolute best thing you can do for yourself is to maintain a positive mindset. Practice words of affirmation each morning and evening leading up to the test to remind yourself of how much you’ve prepared and how ready you are! Statements like, “I’m ready for this. I’ve prepared for this,” can help build up self-efficacy that will keep you feeling more excited than nervous for the upcoming exam. As health coaches, we know the power of positive affirmations very well—it’s time to put them into practice for YOUR success. 

We’re cheering you on here at YourCoach and so excited for the many soon-to-be NBC-HWCs on our platform and beyond!

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