The following hints & tips have been taken from our experienced tutors and knowledgeable students (both past and present) to give you the best possible advice and guidance on how to make the best out of studying from home.
In order to make sure you make the most of all your learning materials provided with your chosen course, the importance of developing and maintaining the right study skills is essential. For many of our students we find that often there are a lot of commitments placed upon their time that act as a distraction from being able to devote as much studying time as one would have hoped for. As such we endeavour to consider this when creating and developing all of our courses. That said, there is also a certain level of commitment required from you as the student to ensure you truly make the most out of your learning experience.
We also have an increasing number of students who have not studied before, or have not studied for some time, and say they are “out of practice” when it comes to retaining information. As we have mentioned before throughout our advice and support given, having a positive attitude and outlook on your learning experience is paramount to ensuring your success.
For those who have not been in education studying and so have been out working, travelling, looking after a family, and/or other situations, you still have plenty to bring and offer to your distance learning experience. Drawing on your life experiences from all these various circumstances, you can apply the skills, experiences and knowledge to help you study your training course. After all, learning is not just about having a good memory to recall information; instead it is about understanding thoroughly what you have learned, thinking about it, evaluating it, to then apply it to real life situations.
Below are some hints and tips to help get you started and keep positive throughout your learning.
Planning and Preparation
Before beginning any distance learning training program it is important that you ask yourself certain questions before and during your study time. You want to make sure you find a training program that is suitable to you and your goals, while also is manageable in terms of your time and commitments.
Once you have begun the course it is advisable that you plan on what you are going to study and when. With all of our courses we provide Study Tools specific to your chosen subject that include Revision Timetable, and checklists. This will help you get thinking about what you need to do to, the short term goals you want to achieve and how you can go about achieving them. Make sure you plan in breaks and days off on your revision timetable to reduce the stress and pressure of work overload.
Once you have worked out a good schedule that you are achieving and thus are well on the way to successfully completing your course, you will need to prepare sufficiently for the final assessments. A good way to fully prepare yourself for the final assessments, whether they are tests and/or assignments, is to constantly remind yourself of this throughout your study time. Using the Study Tools provided you can do this, however you will also need to mentally prepare yourself for the final assessment to ensure you do not feel overwhelmed or panicked when the days comes to hand in your last piece of work, or completing your final test.
Finding the right PLACE to study
Distance learning gives you the freedom to choose where you study as you are not limited to tradition classroom based lessons, instead all the learning materials are made available to you wherever you have an internet connection and device upon which to view it. Therefore it is up to you as the student to take control of this and ensure you find the most appropriate and suitable place to learn.
Try to find somewhere that you can study in the same place all the time. Having one place to study has been a constant piece of advice offered by not just students but tutors also. They find that studying in the same place reduces distractions allowing you to get started quickly when you arrive at your place to work. Avoid public places like internet cafes and so on as of course you cannot guarantee yourself the same place every time you go there and you may find yourself noticing all kinds of distractions if you not seated in a quite part of the space.
Another concern with studying in public areas is that you are limited in making it your own study space. By this we mean, you cannot stick up visual reminders, for instance, on walls as you may be able to in your own room or house.
When choosing the right place to study try to find somewhere distraction free, with comfortable seating (preferably at a desk), in a well lit area, in your own home if this is possible and free from a lot of human traffic. Sitting in front of the TV to begin your work, though may be tempting, will only result in you taking much longer to complete tasks because of all the distractions associated with this.
Try to keep your chosen place of study fully stocked with spare pens, pencils, paper, sticky notes, highlighters, and anything else you may need to ensure you can effectively read through your learning materials and take notes.
Finding the right TIME to study
Another benefit of distance learning is that it gives you the freedom to choose when you study as you are not limited to tradition classroom based lessons, instead all the learning materials are made available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
When studying from home, many students often have many other commitments and demands on their time meaning that trying to find the right time, and enough time to study can be difficult. Once again try to study at home, a relative’s house, or anywhere else you know you will be able to get access to any time of the day. Limiting yourself to internet cafes and other public places, again, are not always the best option as these may only be open at certain times of the day, and as such are not available to you when you might need it.
The following advice is just that, advice, and so should be used at your discretion to find which works best for you and your commitments:
Advisably, a minimum of around 20 hours a week to study, go over notes and use practice papers is recommended to ensure you finish your study materials in good time. To achieve this you may have to temporarily sacrifice leisure activities such as going to the gym to ensure you make enough time for yourself, without putting too much pressure on yourself to do all the things you want and need in one week.
Set specific times during the day to study, and make these times clear to all those who are close to you. This will ensure you are not distracted and disturbed by phone calls, and conversations from those who live with you during the times you need to study.
Though you may have to sacrifice leisurely activities, there is no need to completely stop this altogether. If these sacrifices you make subsequently have a detrimental effect on you mental and physical well being, resume these activities and just work out another way in which you can fit in time to study.
Taking and making NOTES
Taking notes and making them to suit your revision needs is an important part of learning, and this is especially the case for distance learning. The ability to not only take, and retain information you have learned, but to also summarise the concepts in an accurate and succinct manner is an important skill.
To effectively do this there are a few pointers to follow:
Take and make notes as you progress through the reading material, extracting all the relevant information and re-writing it in your OWN WORDS rather than copying down what you are reading. Taking these notes will help you retain the information you have learned better and be able to communicate what you have learned either written in assessments or verbally speaking to someone (for example in an interview).
Actually writing down notes on paper you can write key terms, or other main points of your own and next to it your own opinions, thoughts and examples about this particular term. Additionally you can use diagrams and other types of illustrations in your notes to exemplify a point.
Notes do not just have to take the form of pen to paper with pages of text. Instead use the Study Tools provided with your course listing definitions, terms, abbreviations, and other tables given.
Other forms of note taking can include using index cards writing main and key points as well as diagrams and illustrations.
Just make sure all the notes you take are organised in a way that you can easily find and understand them.
Mastering multiple choice papers
A multiple choice exam is often thought of as an ‘easy option’, where students are given a question and a choice of typically four answers to choose from. In actual fact being successful in a multiple choice exam is a skill to be learnt in order to secure your chances of success. To enhance your performance in a multiple choice exam there are a general guidelines that can be followed, of which you can find below.
1. Planning and preparation – to reiterate the guidelines found in the above section, careful planning and preparation can save you much time when it comes to the exam. Use the Study Tools provided with your course, contact your tutors to find out what topics are most likely to come up in the final assessments, keep up to date with industry news as quite often this type of information will be updated in the course materials and so will be likely to be used in the exam.
2. Practice – Some of our courses use a multiple choice type assessments with the options following the questions being very similar to each other. In order to be confident that you are getting the answers right this requires precision. In order to be precise this requires perfection, and it goes without say, practice makes perfect. Use all the practice questions and practice papers that come with your course study material, notes you have made throughout the course, in addition to Study Tools and Tips available with your course, on the site and from your tutor.
3. Work with someone – get friends and/or family to help you with your revision. Let them quiz you using past papers, practice questions and your notes. Being able to verbalise answers to questions, not just in the form of multiple choice questions and answers, can really help you retain the information, understand it better and thus recall it better.
4. Always attempt the question –for some multiple choice questions the answer to the question may be tricky and difficult to tell straight away. In this case never leave the question out altogether, remember you have at least a 25% chance of getting it right, compared to 0% if you leave it blank. If you think at least 2 options may be correct, and the final option is ‘All of the above’, then option D is a high probability. If ‘all of the above’ option is not available then simply work by process for elimination, filtering out what you (think you) know to be incorrect and work from there.
Plagiarism in any area of business or studying is taken very seriously and can have serious implications for those believed to be doing so. Copying or pretending that someone else’s work to be your own may be frowned upon in some cases, in other areas can go as far as legal implications. Thus as a general rule, avoid it at all costs. For the courses that use multiple choice as the final assessment method this advice may seem redundant, however for the courses with assignments and coursework as the final assessment, this is essential. Tutors tend to be more aware of those caught plagiarising someone else’s work and so as your course tutors are more likely than not going to be marking your work, it is best to avoid this altogether.
Final Assessment preparation
Once you have read the reading material and study literature, made use of all the Study Tools, made notes and revised the practice papers, you should be confident enough to believe that you have a strong chance of succeeding. If, in fact, you have done all the necessary preparations, following the advice and guidance given from past and present students, not to mention our expert tutors, you are sure to do well. Just make sure that before you book and take the test you have thoroughly read through all your notes and other revision material. Be confident in your own ability and do not be afraid to ask for help, whether its a family member, friend, our support team, or your tutor.
What happens next
The final stage in the study process – the final assessment. Whether your final assessment is a multiple choice exam, an essay style exam or coursework, you need to be sure of what you know and how you are going to translate your knowledge into a good final grade. Quick pointers include, making sure you read each and every questions properly, noting whether the question is asking you for a description, explanation, or summary. For multiple choice exams read the question carefully to see whether you are being asked, for instance, in what year did something NOT occur or whether it did. There is a big difference between these questions and can cost you valuable marks if not read properly. Finally, essay style answers, unless the question specifically states in the exam, or your tutor has told you, there is usually not an exact work limit. As such we advise our students to see how many marks is being allocated for that question (which can usually be found next to or under the questions) and make one point per mark. If one point per mark is not feasible, then at least go into more detail for the points you do make.