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The worst thing you can do is to open your book and start studying

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With more than 10 years' experience in preparing students for exams, we've learnt a bit about study techniques. We've seen what works well and what does not. We like to say to new students at our Open Days "the worst thing you can do is to open your book and start studying", which usually catches them off guard. Here's what we mean when we say that.

 When you receive your study material, your initial reaction would be to dive right in and begin studying immediately. You open your book and intently start studying, summarising, making notes, trying to remember, for recall later. According to us, as well as some renowned study experts like Toni Krasnic, the author of Concise Learning: Learn More Score Higher in Less Time , this would be the absolute worst thing to do.
 
"When I started studying towards my professional qualification, I immediately opened my books and started studying. Instead of feeling I was making progress, I felt overwhelmed and confused by all the information I needed to retain," says IBTC student Mpo. Once you start feeling overwhelmed and confused by your study material, you lose control of your learning and end up blindly navigating through your study material.
 
Luckily, we have uncovered how you can study to get better results (with the help of Krasnic and our students) . The message is simple, achieve better results by following a better study approach.
 
Here's the big idea: Learning is a step-by-step process that involves planning and organisation. Just like building a house, you first do building plans, get materials, set up a foundation and then build up from there. You don't just start building without taking all the steps. It's the same with your studies. Before you start learning, you need to preview.
 
Preview first - get the gist of the content first
Don't attempt to study before you have Previewed your study material. Previewing the course material prepares your mind to process information and plan where you need to begin studying. It helps you develop a big picture of what you'll be covering. We suggest you skim through the chapter, note all headings, subheadings, bold words, graphs, pictures and summaries. Read through it all casually and try and figure out what the chapter is about. Don't try to remember anything.
 
"Once you have a bigger picture of the work you will be covering, you will have an easier time learning the material and retaining it in your memory, " says Krasnic. This method has been proven to be an effective way for students to spend less time studying, because you can cut down on revision time as the information becomes imbedded in your mind.

"My best tip to student who sign up for classes, is to preview the work the day before. My rule is 'never walk into a class cold' - you must know which topics will be covered. That way you will be ahead of all the other students in class and you'll be more able to take in the lecture and will retain the information for longer," says Nikki Maritz, our CEO and Krasnic fan.

Draw a mind map - visual memory is stronger than other types of memory
When you eventually start studying, it's good to summarise the key points. We like doing it in a mind map. That's because a mind map creates a 'picture' for your mind. And pictures stay with us longer. You'll be able to access the image of your mind map in your exam, under stressful conditions, far easier than accessing ordinary summary notes.

"If you attend classes, it's handy to update your mind map in class. This way you can use your mind map when you do your revision in the weeks leading up to your exam. That's how you'll save on study time," says Nikki.

Your take-home: Studying is essential, but it can be time consuming and hard work. Two ways to make it easier and last longer, is to (1) preview material before you start studying and before you come to class and (2) to use mind maps to summarise chapters.
 
You're with IBTC now

IBTC is an accredited business college that offers professional qualifications such as CIMA, ACCA, ICB and CFA. We have a vast number of study options including face-to-face classes, online classes, exam prep classes and home study
To find out more and which study options best suits you, please contact Robert on 0861 111 411. Alternatively, you can send an email to info@ibtc.co.za and he will gladly respond to your email.

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