Carol McLachlan outlines how accountants can improve their learning techniques to study more effectively.
As a late baby-boomer swotting for exams in the 1970s and 1980s, I knew only two studying techniques: read and memorise. Before highlighter pens, the reading was laborious, often boring and thwarted by a wandering mind. The memorising was performed through verbal repetition or sometimes written regurgitation. Very occasionally I got my hands on a past exam question to practise on - and that was it. Apart from some strategic question spotting, ‘learning as technique’ wasn’t on the curriculum. We weren’t taught how to study, we pitched up, got stuck in and shed masses of blood, sweat and tears along the way.
These study skills did take me through O’levels, A’levels, a history degree and the ICAEW exams. The results were respectable, but relative to the time and angst involved, in retrospect the return on investment looks rather paltry.
It’s all so different nowadays. My children, born at the turn of the century, are being taught how to learn. As Michael Gerber (author of E-myth Revisited) teaches us in business, working ‘on’ the job, not just ‘in’ the job is now part of the school curriculum. ‘Whole brain’ and ‘mind friendly’ ways of learning present our children with a toolkit of techniques to choose from. They are taught to develop personal strategies for solving problems and how to play to their strengths.
So, fellow accountants, it’s time to play catch up. Whether you’re studying for exams, preparing for a presentation or seeking to quickly and effectively absorb and retain information, try these 21st century quick tips.