Studying for exams – at any stage in your career – can often seem like a relentless and mind-numbing prospect. Whether you prefer to put everything on post-it notes or write out mock answers in full script, everyone has their own unique way of retaining information.
In order to balance full-time employment with studying, it’s important that your time is utilised to its greatest possible capacity. You barely need to go online to find millions of different suggestions as to how to do this. It’s simply a case of finding one that works for you.
We’ve put together a collection of techniques that might help improve your study sessions.
The Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique that was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s.
Cirillo's idea is one of the most popular time management and process improvement methods employed by innovators and leaders from all walks of life and is named after the tomato-shaped timer that Cirillo used when he himself was a student:
- Budget your time spent on a single task to 25 minute segments or ‘pomodoros’.
- Take a five minute break between each ‘pomodoro’ and note how often you became distracted or restless.
- After four ‘pomodoros’, take a longer break of 15-20 minutes.
This is a completely straightforward form of studying that you may well have utilised to your advantage whilst at school.
The Feynman Notebook Method
- Buy a pack of flashcards (or make virtual ones).
- Write down terminology / questions that are likely to come up in the exam.
- Read through them several times and get others to test you at random.
- Keep jumbling the cards so you don’t get used to seeing them in a specific order.
Famous physicist Richard Feynman lends his name to this particular studying technique.
His idea is based simply on the fact that, when it comes to exams, there will be aspects of learning that you are less comfortable with, therefore, these should be the elements that you study twice as hard on.
- Buy a notebook and title it “Things I Do Not Know”
- Make a list of all the elements of the examinations that you are least familiar / comfortable with.
- Make detailed notes for each of these points in order to further your understanding and make your learning more well-rounded.
The term “distributed-practice effect” refers to the finding that distributing learning over time (either within a single study session or across sessions) typically benefits long-term retention more than mass learning opportunities back-to-back or in relatively close succession.
- Make a study timetable for whatever days you have available to dedicated study. Pin it on your wall or somewhere you will notice it.
- Only focus on one or two subjects per night over the course of 90 mins – 2 hours.
- Don’t skip days on the plan – or you’ll feel the need to cram on another night.
- Repeat the process in the weeks leading up to your exams.
Whilst there is no foolproof way to revise, it’s important to ensure that your study time does not interfere with sleeping patterns or working life. You are allowed to give yourself a break!
Good luck to all candidates sitting ATT, CTA and ICAS exams in May and ACCA exams in June. To get in touch with me to discuss opportunities in the Accountancy Practice market, click here.