Frequently Asked Questions
1."When do I begin to study?"
The best time is when you receive your first study unit, so you have plenty of time to plan. Make a study plan that allows you the time you need to get through the work you want to cover, scheduling study time every day, even if only for an hour. You need to prioritise when you study, starting with the most important or difficult sections while you are fresh.
Include in your schedule breaks for coffee, a chat or just ten minutes an hour of stretching and breathing exercises. This will get your circulation going, wake you up and help you to concentrate.
Put this study plan on your wall where you are going to study and stick to it!
2. "It's so difficult to remember everything."
When you open a study unit, look at the contents page to see what each chapter is about. Take your time to absorb what you will be learning, and then focus on one section at a time. Always read the outcomes or learning objectives at the beginning of each study unit or chapter, so you know what you are going to learn before you start. Look carefully at the headings for each section, and see how everything fits together. Do the tasks and self-assessment questions in the study units, as these are designed to consolidate your understanding.
Interact with the study material - make notes and highlight the parts you think are the key points.
Get a friend or member of your family to ask you questions, so you become confident about answering.
3. "Even though I understand everything I read, how do I get it to stick in my mind?"
Make your learning personal. We remember things that have meaning for us, so try to make connections or associations in your memory with things that are easy for you to remember. For example, when trying to remember a long list of items, many people take the first letter of each word in the list and create a word that they will remember.
4. "How do I remember so much stuff?"
You need to organise the information like a filing system! It is easier to remember a large amount of information if you organise it into smaller categories. Create categories of information and link them together to make sense of the smaller and bigger parts. It is very useful to summarise the content in your own handwriting, by using key points or headings. You can also draw mind maps, charts, and diagrams showing how you understand the sections of work and the way they fit together.
5. "I keep forgetting what I learnt a few minutes before."
Once you have finished learning a section, review it. Go through the activities in the study unit and then try to answer the self-assessment questions – in writing! If you get stuck, it means you need to re-read the section. But, at least now you will know where you got stuck and what points you have to concentrate on.
6. "I'm running out of time, but have still got so much to study."
Don't panic. Look at everything you have to study and identify areas that you still don't understand, or that are important. Draw yourself a study schedule/roster to cover all those areas and get started. Remember, if you fail an exam, you will simply go back the next time with more knowledge and greater understanding.
7. "I think it all makes sense. How can I be sure?"
Draw up questions to test yourself on general connections between sections of work as well as details. This will give you a clear idea of the big picture and you will understand how the smaller bits of information fit in. Look at all sections of work that have been covered and don't take chances by leaving things out – that will only damage your complete understanding.
Remember; always treat the tests in the study material that you submit to the college for marking like mini-exams. Give yourself only the time allocated to complete the questions and use them to prepare yourself for the final examination. Once you have completed all the tests successfully in this way, it means you are ready for the final examination.
8. 'If I cram the night before an exam, everything should still be fresh in my mind...'
It won't. You will not have a clear idea of the big picture, so you will easily be confused by questions and will probably answer incorrectly. Also, you will write about what you remember, instead of answering the question. There are no marks for information that is not asked for!
9. "What's wrong with studying in bed?"
When you get into bed, your mind tells you it is time to sleep, so you won't achieve maximum concentration. Get your mind into study mode in the appropriate setting – at a desk! Also, when you write your exam, your memory will be able to access what you have learned if your study environment is similar to that of the exam. Always try to study seated at a desk or table, and make sure your lighting is sufficient.
10. "I worked through the night on this, and it still doesn't make sense."
When it comes to rest, the mind works in the same way as the body. In the same way that an athlete needs to train regularly and get sufficient sleep before a big match, you need to study regularly and let your mind rest in between this study "exercise". Don't exhaust your memory by forcing yourself to stay awake all night - you need to give your mind a complete rest before the big day!
And, in the same way your body needs nutrition through good eating habits, so does your mind. Those essential elements of nutrition - protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals – will help to keep you physically and mentally fit.