ICT Views

Why bother with the background reading at Diploma level?

by: (Governance, Risk and Compliance Course Director) on

We’ve all been there: leaving an important report or essay to the last minute and then panicking when the hours tick by and the coffee’s gone cold. It’s a fact of life (well, my life), right? That’s lazy human nature, surely? 

Nice try…

When studying for a qualification, especially a professional ICA qualification, planning and forethought is key, particularly with the higher-level programmes such as the Diploma and the Professional Postgraduate Diploma. You’ve got to know your stuff before you can even begin to sit down to write.

It’s like a school sports day; you wouldn’t just chance your arm on the day (well, I might…) and end up face down in the long jump pit. You’d practice, concentrate and plan, possibly against your will, but still. It’s either that or look like a fool on the day.

I studied the Diploma in Compliance in 2013 and learned the hard way about the importance of doing the background reading before trying to blag my way through the workshops. It just won’t work. For the Postgraduate level programmes, which I subsequently undertook in 2015, this is even more crucial, as you are assessed on your understanding of the subject matter through your write-ups of the masterclasses you attend. How can you write effective notes without understanding the background to the topic in question?

ReadingsMy advice is to do the reading and make your own notes before you get into the workshop/masterclass. Trust me, this will help you when it comes to writing the assignment and/or the exam. Be that keen bean we all knew at school that would bring in textbooks from home to show off to the teacher. It will stand you in good stead in the ICA programmes.

With this in mind, here are some of my other top tips for successful studying:

  • Sit in a comfortable chair, away from any distractions, and in a good light. Squinting at your study material in a room lit only by the TV screen won’t help you concentrate.
  • Understand what study method works for you. I prefer to study in the early hours of the morning, when the world hasn’t woken up yet and I have the peace and quiet I need, along with a fresh mind. Find the time of day which works best for you, where possible. If music helps you zone out, go for it.
  • Extract the key points from the study text, but don’t highlight everything. This is an important tip; highlight only those phrases or short sentences which you will want to refer to later. If you want to remember where a topic came up, use sticky notes. Highlighting vast chunks of text just makes the paper go funny.
  • Make your own notes. The course material includes everything you need, but your own notes may be easier for you to use when writing your assignment. They’ll be in your tone of voice. Concentrate on those areas which appear in your assignment question.
  • If you’re unsure about a topic, or simply need to ask a question, don’t assume - ask. The Q&A Forums on the ICT website are the ideal place where you can ask questions, not only to the Tutor/Course Director, but to other students. Rather this than assuming and getting it wrong…
  • Take regular breaks and don’t over-do it. I remember those people at university who would boast about spending all night in the library and then be exhausted when it came to the exam. Keep yourself well-watered and fed, rather like a rubber plant.
  • Enjoy yourself. Continuous learning should always be an enjoyable experience.


In the meantime, if you do have any questions around any of the courses, please contact us at ICT@int-comp.com or +44 (0) 121 362 7534.

I hope to meet some of you soon. Good luck!

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