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6 alternative study methods

by: (Content Marketing Manager) on

We recently focused on motivation, and how it can help you on your new learning journey. Now that you’re feeling sufficiently pumped and ready to tackle your course, it is time to absorb some simple study methods that will help you become even more successful during your time with us.


Successful students (and professionals) will often sit back and critique how they study and work. They hone their learning methodology so that it is a finely tuned machine, completely fit for purpose and sufficient to their needs. Indeed, the habits of successful professionals and students are often researched and used as a benchmark as an aspiration we should all work towards.


Of course, we’re no Albert Einstein. You may well have a genius akin to his, but we certainly need a helping hand when it comes to our studies!


Study methods are varied to say the least – and what works for you may not work for your colleagues. It’s important, therefore, that you find something that works for you and helps motivate you in the process. Nothing is more draining to your motivation than attempting to study in a way that is wholly incompatible with your personality. There following are no hard and fast rules, just simple ways for you to enjoy and take in your new course material.

Read for pleasure


Hands up if you read a book before bed? Instead of reading the latest Jackie Collins, why not take a copy of your course manual to bed? Don’t make any notes, simply read the manual in the way that you would a novel. You can also read on your commute (assuming one takes the train or bus, of course) and make it a pleasurable activity that you look forward to. By reading your course manual in your leisure time, you don't have to plough through it in a rush at a later date whilst praying to your chosen deity that the information will stick.


Trust me. It won’t.


Read for pleasure. Take your time. Truly absorb your new material and enjoy it.


Talk to yourself


Contrary to popular opinion, talking to yourself isn’t a sign of madness. It’s actually important to talk to yourself in a positive manner. All of us mutter under our breath (we all have those days) but talking to yourself while you study is scientifically-backed as a super effective way of retaining information. If you don’t have the time, or a colleague, to study with and impart your wisdom to, talking to yourself is the next best thing.


Learning by rote is actively discouraged by our faculty. You need to find a way to engage with your material, and remember it. We don't want you to regurgitate your course content, but we do want you to take some actionable tips and best practice back to the office. After all, this is why you’re studying with us!


Self-explaining, or talking to yourself, is critical to helping you think more deeply about your chosen subject matter. After all, it’s a deliberate action to stop, pause and repeat. This period of reflection allows you to full take in the information you are learning. It’s essentially thinking about your thinking.


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Self quiz!


Who didn’t love a class quiz at school? (Just me…? I’ll get my coat). Taking the time to quiz yourself can be a impactful way of retaining new information. While you are probably familiar with the key concepts of your role, ICA qualifications are designed to be practical, in-depth and to challenge you. Moving away from the traditional means of ‘tickboxing’ (that may be a made-up word) your way through your position, as a compliance professional you should be empowered to make decisions, using shrewd analytical skills and making sound judgements based on best practice. International Compliance Training courses, and workshops, will help you do that. So, while taking this new information on board, you need to be mindful of how you further retain that information so that you can take this new-found, empowering knowledge into your firm.


Self-quizzing is a great method to employ to keep your memory sharp. Practising sample questions, in an exam-like environment, is proven to help you remember the material you’re learning. Look at case studies, previous assignment questions and get a feel for what the ‘real thing’ will be like. Test yourself against this standard and you’ll be laughing all the way to a pass mark (at a minimum!)


Mind map


Notes are usually written in a hurry; typically they comprise barely legible squiggles which are not entirely useful for revision and study. To render them usable, take your notes and formulate them into mind maps. Stick to strong themes. Make them bright and colourful. Look at how you can utilise this information in the form of a poster or reference point. This visual way of learning is proven to be an effective way of studying, fuelled by intelligence and creativity – which we know that you have in abundance. The science behind this is that you will make more meaningful connections between themes in your work, thus improving your memory’s capacity.




This tried and tested tool isn’t just for secondary schools; in fact, they’re an inexpensive, immersive way to learn all of the new, fascinating material that you’re absorbing. Write down key facts into small pieces of card, and simply read and revise when you have a moment. Commuting? Whip out your flashcards. Settling down to lunch? Take them out and have a read-through. Cooking dinner? Yes, now is the perfect time to get your flashcards out. Bite-sized chunks of information can easily be digested to help on your study journey. After all, we all strive to work smarter, not harder and this method is testament to that.


Bring the subject to life


A lot of the study methods that I have mentioned require you to make a lot of notes. It goes without saying that studying is a paper-based pastime. But you can maximise your studying potential by watching documentaries on your chosen subject matter. Visit museums, cultural institutions and places of interest that bring the subject to life. There will be books, articles and a vast amount of material that you can consume that are indirectly related to your course material that will give you a lot of scope and background information to what you’re learning. And, putting on Netflix in the name of studying always goes down well!




Studying may seem somewhat overwhelming, but using the right study methods (and a mixing it up to keep your studying fresh) can see you embrace your new learning journey. After all, your future starts today.


Further reading





Are you interested in studying for an ICA course but would like to see for yourself what it's like studying with us before you make a decision? Access our course demo for the ICA Certificate in AML for a taste of what it's like to study with us.


Want to study with International Compliance Training? Take a look at our extensive qualification suite.


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