Study Advice

Boost your study habits during self-isolation.

Good news for CIMA students: Technology is here to help with social distancing. There are more ways to study remotely than ever before.

Good news for CIMA students: Technology is here to help during the time of social distancing. There are more ways to study remotely than ever before. Instructionally designed pre-recorded content and live broadcasts through WebEx, Zoom or similar platforms allow you to continue your studies at your own pace. With the tools at your fingertips, here are strategies for strong study habits:

Create a learning space.

Most students prefer a quiet place with little distraction. This may be difficult if you live in a busy household. If noise is a problem, consider a headset with instrumental music playing at low volume. Songs with lyrics can break concentration. To remove as many distractions as possible, consider turning off your mobile phone, or at least turning off all notifications. Contrary to popular belief, multitasking doesn’t work. The reality is that people swap attention between two competing activities. This is tiring and reduces levels of concentration.

Don’t study for too long or cram.

Studying for a long time and cramming the night before an exam is not the best approach. Cramming can work in those later stages of revision, but it overload short-term memory, resulting in you forgetting something the next day. Studying for short periods — about 90 minutes — frequently is the secret to effective studying. We don’t have any hard evidence as to the optimum period of study but most believe something around one and a half hours works best. After your study session, take a break for 10–30 minutes. Grab a snack or something to drink. Ideally, take a walk. Exercise improves concentration and the ability to focus on the task at hand.

Question practice is key.

This is one of the most effective learning methods. Answering questions — known as ‘retrieval practice’ — forces the brain to recall what was previously learned. In so doing, knowledge is transferred to long-term memory.

Keep in contact with others.

Fellow students can clarify problems and offer moral support. And you can quiz each other! If you have a tuition provider, they will be pleased to support you, providing forums and technical help or connecting you with a tutor.

Develop a positive mindset.

It’s normal to feel a bit of stress or worry when dealing with challenging situations, and a certain amount of stress is good. There is a view that worry is simply how the brain moves something into your mental list of priorities. Writing down your worries to create a list on paper is a healthy technique for turning the worry into a step towards resolution. Practice thinking kind thoughts towards yourself and others.

Take care of yourself.

Drink lots of water and build exercise into your daily routine. Walk or run outside. Stretching, yoga and calisthenics can be done indoors. Exercise is a great antidote for stress and why not pass your next CIMA exam with washboard abs?

“Stuart Pedley-Smith, the Head of Learning for Kaplan, kindly produced this abridged post on behalf of CIMA.”