If you want to pass your online courses you need effective study techniques.
Thanks to social distancing measures, more adults than ever are enrolling for distance learning – and it’s not just college students. Ambitious professionals, determined jobseekers, and smart business owners know one thing: online study can help you diversify and gain an edge in the jobs market.
Unfortunately, many people fail to complete their online courses. Not because they lack intelligence, but because they lack the right study techniques. Distance learning requires discipline, the right mindset, and a plan. Without these it’s easy to become overwhelmed. That’s especially true if your study skills are rusty, or you’re trying to balance study with work and childcare.
Giving up is the easy option, but that means wasting opportunities as well as your money – so what can you do?
The good news is this: effective study techniques can be learned. So read on to learn our top 5 study tips that can help you pass your online course with flying colours.
1. Organise your study time
Organisation is the key to effective study, and the first thing you need is a study timetable. Online courses allow you to learn flexibly at a time to suit you, so work out when that is: are you a night owl or a morning person? Once you’ve worked that out, arrange your timetable so you study when you’re most alert, but don’t forget to factor in work and parenting responsibilities. Even if you’re a morning person, you can’t study effectively at 7am with a toddler crawling over you.
2. Your coursework needs structure
Coursework is a key component of many online courses, and well-structured answers are key to getting the highest marks. Write a clear introduction, a thorough analysis, and a conclusion that highlights your key points. Consider your language use too – keep it short and simple. Rambling, disjointed answers are not your friend. When you’re studying online courses, it’s easy to forget that a human has to read your work. Your examiners won’t waste their time wading through overly-complex prose to search for your key points, they’ll just downmark you.
3. Get the right content
Examiners don’t mark your conclusions, they mark your delivery and analysis of the information. Most online courses require you to demonstrate critical thinking – a simple explanation of your ideas won’t be enough. Instead, you’ll need to argue the case for and against your theories, and offer some supporting evidence. Professionals who are taking CPD courses may be required to reflect on a learning experience, and constructive reflection requires a certain technique; it’s not sufficient to state what you did or what you learned. Instead, explain why you took certain actions, what the outcomes were, and how the experience helped you to develop – this will demonstrate your learning.
Online courses often include an exam, and being well prepared for these tests is essential. Try to access past exam papers – studying these will help you to target your revision time effectively. Is there a certain topic that always comes up? Are they multiple choice questions, short questions, or essay-style answers? When you’ve done this, timetable your revision so you allocate enough revision time for each topic.
So it’s the day of your online test, and the fact that you’re taking the exam in your kitchen rather than a school hall doesn’t make it any less stomach-churning. You’ll need the right approach to manage your nerves and perform well. Read through the paper before you begin writing, so you know how many questions you have to answer. That way you’ll avoid spending too much time on one answer and rushing the others.
If your exam requires essay-style answers, take a minute to plan them. It’s important to answer the actual question – churning out reams of irrelevant information will affect your grades. Give structured responses, provide evidence, and demonstrate critical thinking. Lastly, if your exam has flexible start times, take the test at a time that works for you. The more alert and less distracted you are, the better your performance will be. Finally, make time to eat well and rest in the days before your exam – your performance will suffer if you’re running on empty.
Need more support with your online courses?
Our study tips are a good introduction to effective study techniques, but if you need more help, Wordsmiths have you covered. We produced Mastering Study – our downloadable studying techniques manual – with distance learners in mind. The comprehensive course contains 5 PDF workbooks and 23 short tutorial videos. The modules are:
- Get Organised: Timetable Tips
- Structuring an Essay
- Revision Tips
- Exam Technique (Humanities: essay writing)
- Exam Technique (STEM)
It’s the only study skills programme you’ll ever need.
You can access Mastering Study by clicking on the following link:
And remember, our academic editing service is available to all students. So get in touch if you’re concerned that your language and writing skills are dragging your grades down. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.