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50 years of success - Established 1974

50 Years of Success
Established in 1974

"Helping you gain
.control of your career"

Study Skills


Time is precious, so if you want to make the best of the time you’ve dedicated to studying it’s best to learn what works for you. Some of you will know exactly what you need to do to learn a new piece of information – others have no idea. So, to start you off, here’s some advice from us.


Reading is obviously an important skill on a correspondence course. You will be working your way through the course sections by yourself so, you will need pretty good reading skills. Fortunately, reading ability improves with practice and, if you get stuck, there are dictionaries, thesauruses and grammar books you can refer to. Plus, there’s plenty of help available from student services, if you need it.

So to begin with we advise reading each section through at least three times:

1. quickly – this first quick read through is for you to familiarise yourself with the contents of the module. Don’t be concerned with understanding the contents and don’t take notes at this stage. You are just supposed to be getting a feel for the ideas contained in it.

2. in-depth – the second time you read the section you should take your time, read it thoroughly and make notes

3. final time – this final read through is to fix the information in your mind and help you remember it.

Of course, this is only a suggestion. If you need to read the modules 10 times, then that’s what you should do.


One sure fire way of helping you remember new information is to write it down in your own words, otherwise known as note taking. As, according to research, “note taking is an effective information-processing tool that is commonly used both in daily life and in many professions”, (Hartley, 2002). Making notes means you have to understand what it is you are reading and, in 1987 Kiewra established that “the note taking action itself is part of the memorization process and results in the creation of a form of ‘internal’ storage.” However, despite it being a highly effective way of learning, most people are not taught how to take notes.

How To Take Notes

For the purpose of this course, we would advise the following method:

  • on the second, thorough read though of the material you should note:
    • the main points – use markers to highlight important sections of text if it helps
    • anything you are not sure of – words, phrases, punctuation and so on
  • once you’ve completed this process you should compare your notes to the original text to make sure you’ve recorded the information correctly
  • re-read your notes and be truthful about whether you’ve understood the ideas or not. If not, go back and re-read the section again, making more notes as needed.


Do bear in mind that there are several effective ways of note-taking and it may be worth you looking at them all, trying them out and deciding which best suits you. Some methods to consider are concept mapping, outlining and the Cornell system. Remember this is a skill that you’ll be able to use time and again for further study, work and everyday life.


Remembering what you have learned is key to improving the skill you’ve chosen to study. Obviously, reading the information and taking notes on it are very important parts of the learning process. But, you should also make sure that you revise your work on a regular basis to refresh your memory. Finally, it’s a good idea to ask yourself questions about your study. When you can answer them you’ll find the information will stick more in your mind.

Use the methods given above to maximise your learning and enjoy the course more.

Hartley, J. (2002). Note taking in non academic settings: a review. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 16, 559-574.

Kiewra, K. A. (1987). Note taking and review: The research and its implications. Journal of Instructional Science, 16, 233-249.

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