How to make your studies work for you

Excel in your exams like our award winners with the help of our study resources
by Lauren Johnson, CISI copywriter

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Your brain represents just 2% of your total body weight but consumes 20% of your daily energy,  according to a report published by the US government’s National Center for Biotechnology Information. It’s no wonder why studying can sometimes feel like a mammoth task. Thinking alone can drain you.

The science behind effective studying

In order to retain and retrieve information successfully, the brain must first encode it correctly. There are three main stages of memory, described in chapter 9.1 of ‘Introduction to Psychology’ by BCcampus Open Education: short-term, which includes sensory memory as “brief storage of sensory information”; medium-term or episodic memory where you internalise first-hand experiences, and finally long-term or semantic memory, which enables you to recall information, such as facts in a textbook.

But not all information makes it through all three stages, according to the unit. To aid the transfer of knowledge from short-term to semantic memory, it may help to identify what learning style works best for you. Some predominant learning styles include visual, auditory, reading and writing, and kinaesthetic. We provide resources that count towards your continuing professional development (CPD) to accommodate each of these styles, helping you make the most out of your studies.

Visual learning

A visual learner absorbs information most successfully with videos, graphics and illustrations and other visually represented material. We include charts and graphs as well as infographics in our online learning tools and have recently launched micromodules which are short videos that introduce you to important topics in financial services. Work through our online Professional Refresher modules and our physical textbooks where you will find illustrations, animations and graphics to explain concepts and processes.  

Below is an example graphic we share describing a whaling attack which features in our module on Cybercrime.

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Additionally, our exam study tool Revision Express utilises interactive exercises to help test what you’ve learned as you revise. For example, as you work through a paragraph you are asked to fill in the blanks with the keywords provided. The blank box immediately tells you whether you are right or wrong with green and red shades. The positive and negative association through colour and imagery helps prevent you from making the same mistake in future. And the interactive element works for those who prefer to write things down.

Below is an example from Fundamentals of Financial Services edition 5 on Revision Express
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Listen to deep discussions with experts

We accommodate auditory learning with a wealth of videos on CISI TV. You can listen to experts and professionals from the financial sector talk about the activity in the current market and deep dive into topics of concern to help you understand complex issues straight from the source. We also upload events you may have missed. For example, you can watch experts talk about Consumer Duty related to the 2023 FCA Consumer Duty rules.

Put your work into practice

We also have a comprehensive events schedule providing you with opportunities to network with potential colleagues and professionals and get involved in discussions about the wider market. For example, we recently hosted an event for our Young Professionals’ Network to help them develop their networking skills. Individuals mingled with other sector professionals who are at different stages in their careers and worked with a facilitator who shared some tools and techniques for getting the most out of networking. For the kinaesthetic learner who prefers physical activity, attending our events also means you can participate in activities that involve the audience. Attending these events counts towards your CPD. Previous attendees agree that our events have had a positive impact on their career development and learning.

  • Sign up to attend our next event and earn CPD points

Read and rehearse

If your predominant style of learning is reading and writing, use our detailed textbooks to work through concepts, calculations and real-life examples on paper. Reread sections you don’t understand and use the practice exercises to apply what you have learned. We provide answers and explanations at the back of each chapter. Practise the exercises and understand the method by following the explanations. You can move from the episodic to the semantic memory and no longer rely on the context the textbook provides.

Furthermore, we publish insightful content in our publication The Review. Read opinions and advice from experts, hot topics and guidance on activity in the financial sector to widen your subject knowledge.

Key advice from high achievers

In previous articles, we spoke to award winners and high achievers who have scored near to full marks in our exams across different qualifications and different levels using our resources. Our 2023 annual award winners across categories in compliance and risk, wealth management and financial planning, and corporate finance and operations, share how they juggled work and study through an intense period. Additionally, student award winner Senan Skalkos shared his secret to excelling in exams at a young age. The main takeaways from all winners include:

  1. Starting early so that you give yourself enough time to process the information and put it into practice.
  2. Wider reading which helped candidates see how to apply the concepts in daily scenarios. They say this makes the procedures and rules easier to follow.
  3. Attempting to teach what you have learned to someone else. This is a very effective way of testing your understanding of the subject by identifying how you can break it down into a digestible format.

Published: 06 Apr 2023
  • Training, Competence and Culture
  • Events
  • CPD
  • tips
  • modules
  • Revision Express
  • The Review
  • study

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