This semester we're following two of our marketing team as they study for their exams in September. Follow them through the semester to hear their advice on studying, using supports, balancing study with work and home life, and why undertaking exams helps them stay at the top of their game.
In our first blog, Jennifer Grainger explains how she took those vital first steps of opening the textbook.
Getting started…it’s tough to do.
My textbook sat patiently on my kitchen table waiting to be opened for well over a week. As for cleaning the table – well, I simply cleaned around it. There it lay, untouched and ignored for ten days. What I was letting it do there, I’m not sure. Settle in? Get acclimatised to the house before I opened it? Oh, the delaying tactics, they were strong.
This wasn’t helping anyone though, least of all me. And since I have started, I feel much more confident about the exam that lies ahead in September. So, in case you too are finding it hard to open the book, let me give you a couple of tips that worked for me.
1. Rip the bandage off.
Open that textbook
For me this meant a quick and dramatic stop to the delaying tactics (no, I didn’t need to check Instagram one more time) and opening the book. No more excuses, just open that book!
On first opening my textbook, I did three things:
- Scanned the contents and leafed through each chapter. This allowed me to get a sense of the type of material I’d learn over the comings weeks.
- Read through chapter one in its entirety. This gave me a good sense of the language used throughout the book and mentally ‘broke the back’ of the chapters ahead.
- Tried some of the sample multi-choice questions at the end of chapters. I didn’t necessarily get them right, but it helped to get my brain into exam mode again.
2. Study by stealth.
Browse the online learning supports
Once I got through chapter one of the book and felt like I was on my way, I paid the online learning supports a visit. These can be accessed via the Member Area of The Insurance Institute’s website.
I call this ‘study by stealth’ as on my first trip in I simply browsed through content to see what additional study supports appealed to me. I encourage you to do this early in your studies when you can afford to spend some time here and really get a sense of the type of supports available. It’ll pay off in the long run.
The online study supports are an excellent resource and key among them is the learning plan. It breaks down the module topics covered and how they will be examined. Download and print this off. I know I plan on referring to mine often throughout the semester.
Other supports that I find invaluable are the recap webinars and mock exams. And if I don’t feel like lugging my textbook around, I know that I can access it as an e-book here too.
Finally, I booked my place at my face to face lecture. Would I rather spend a Saturday in August doing something else? Let’s face it, yes, but I know from previous experience that these lectures are extremely worthwhile and will greatly increase my chances of a good result in September. I believe the current statistic is that those who attend lectures are 20% more likely to pass. So my advice, clear your diary and do your best to spend a Saturday in August at lectures. (You’d never know, it could be raining that day anyway.)
3. Make a plan
Figure out a study schedule that works for you
I’ve made a plan of days to study and I’m working hard at sticking to it. Currently, Tuesday and Thursday evenings are my study evenings. Even when I don’t feel like studying I push through and do it. Sometimes I might feel too tired to read the book, so I watch a webinar instead. I know it’s not a replacement for the content of the book, but it keeps my study momentum going. I always feel a sense of achievement after I’ve tackled some study after a long day.
Life will get in the way sometimes and my plan does allow for flexibility, but 90% of the time I stick to it. As the weeks draw on, I’ll need to include weekend study time too, but for now that doesn’t work for me. Weekends are family time.
So there you have it, my top three tips for getting started; rip the metaphorical bandage off and just open the book, study by stealth by familiarising yourself with online supports and finally make a study plan and stick to it.
Are these exams tough? Yes. Is it tiring working, juggling family life and making time for study? Yes again. But are insurance exams achievable? Very much so. Just do yourself a favour and dedicate time to it — read your book cover to cover, make use of the online learning supports and attend the day long face to face lecture. It’s not a complicated recipe for success but it does require your time and a bit of dedication.
Right, let me distract you no longer, there’s studying to be done!
Log into the Member Area of www.iii.ie to access your study supports.