6 Ways to Better Prepare for Your Exams by Jennifer Dawson

Fitting Professional Exam Prep Into Your Working Life 

94% of employees would stay with a company longer if they invested in their professional development; yet not having the time for these studies is the number 1 reason why employees do not engage with courses. While sensible executives know the importance of investing in workplace training events, other employees have to source their own training, outside of working hours. Studying for examinations is tough at the best of times but when combined with a full-time job it becomes an even more difficult task. How then should employees balance their studies with their role in the workplace?

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

While it may sound very new-age, there is a lot of truth to the old adages about the health of your body being linked to your ability to process information. Repeated studies have shown that increasing your level of exercise can help increase memory and enhance your cognitive skills. On top of this there is increasing evidence that the right supplements can also help with these skills, aiding studying. The most fundamental truth here is, that to make the most of your time, and to optimize your chances of success at work and study, you need to take time to exercise and to eat properly.

Ask, Don’t Assume

Many executives appreciate the effort and commitment that studying while working demonstrates. If you are taking a course that directly relates to your role then it is worth discussing it with your boss. In some cases you may be needing to reassure them that it will not distract you from your work. If this is the case then, perhaps, you should be using this qualification to help you jump ship. A sensible employer should offer to support you and give you time to study as part of your work. The course is designed to give you skills that will improve your performance in your role so it makes sense to support you. Sit down with your boss and, if they are amenable, see if you can find a way to build the studying into your daily routine.

Plan, Plan And Plan Again

Study is never easy and it has to fit round your life, even when you don’t have a job. It is vital to have a plan of action before the big exam season. Look at your courses and block out what will be looked at when. This is even more important when balancing life, work and study. Plan a sensible approach that will build on prior learning while giving the time for revision along the way too but don’t forget to include your work commitments. It could be tempting to cram as much in as quickly as possible, but learning comes from repetition. Before you even start read the syllabus. Become familiar with what the success criterion are. Know what your key learning objectives will be. Break everything down into chunks to make it easier to digest. This isn’t like being at school, your learning should be familiar and relevant, it is important to plan out the most logical path to make it useful to you.

Find Your Study Place

When do you plan to study? Are you getting up early, having a workout, and then hitting the books for an hour? Will you be cramming over coffee at lunch? What about when the kids go to bed? How are you going to fit your studies around your Supergirl binge-watching habit? Habit is an incredibly powerful tool and it has a huge inertia and momentum of its own. If your evening currently consist of getting home, showering, making dinner, eating it with the kids, putting them to bed and then slobbing out on the sofa, it will be hard to break the routine. New routines are difficult to establish and need real hard work put into them to maintain them. The good news is that eventually they will become second nature themselves.

Think sensibly about when you will have the energy to study and where you will have the least distractions. Will you seriously hit the books when your partner is watching the television? Your study place will be individual to you. Some will prefer to stay at work for an extra hour or so each day, others will do it on the kitchen table while everyone else sleeps. As  full time employee and student it will be far too easy to become swamped. If you do not find the balance then eventually something will give – work, study or family. Find what works for you and stick to it, over and over, until it becomes routine.

Professional development is vital for job satisfaction but often employees have to be the ones to sort it for themselves. Study will be an additional burden, there is no denying this, but it is one that can be planned for. Increase your level of exercise, eat right, plan your time and find a study routine that becomes a habit for you. With these things in place you’ll be picking up your MBA and a promotion in no time.