Sitting your CTA exams is no mean feat. With an average pass rate of just 44% per exam, it is no surprise that preparing and studying towards the qualification can really get on top of you.
No matter what number exam you’re sitting, which route you’ve chosen to go down or how confident you feel about it, our handy exam preparation guide should be able to give you some strategies and tips on managing your time and workload, as well as looking after yourself during a very stressful time.
As a first step, getting organised is the best thing you can do to help you start studying. Bring in the highlighters, get out your cue cards and draw up timetables. Understanding exactly what you need to do will be the only way you can sort out your time effectively. Plan your days by knowing exactly what you want to achieve, segmenting your days into morning and afternoon sessions.
If you’re anything like me, it might feel like crisps, chocolate, takeaways and fizzy drinks are the only diet your study sessions need. However, consuming excessive sugar, energy drinks and strong coffee will only set you up for a short time high; you will crash and lose mental performance and focus. Load your fridge up with fruit and vegetables to nibble on during the day, and consume meals with high protein and fibre in order to improve concentration and keep you feeling fit and well.
When you’re spending time putting together your timetable, remember to schedule in regular breaks. Different studies will advise differently on when to schedule your breaks, and how long to have them for, but they largely agree that having a mini break once every hour or so is beneficial. For some people, setting targets to complete and then having a break may work, for others it works better strictly having a break once every hour. It doesn’t matter how you do it, but schedule in regular rest times, have a proper lunch break where you can get fresh air and step away from your desk.
It seems obvious. It’s certainly not rocket science (or indeed the Application paper!) to tell you that a good night’s sleep is key to studying effectively. Part of this comes down to scheduling your day properly and creating a designated ‘cut-off’ period for ending your studying. Being disciplined with your decision not to study until 3am and to actually go to bed at 10pm will really improve your mood, your focus and your ability to take in and retain information. A good eight hours of sleep will lead to a healthy body and a healthy mind that really helps when revising for your CTA exams.
During my degree and Masters, I found one of the most useful things to do was to go out and meet people. These were often people on my course and we took the chance to discuss what we had learnt that day and discussed what we struggled with. Meeting up with others who are taking CTA exams gives you a chance to get out of the house, stretch your legs and also talk about what you’re doing. You might end up teaching a friend something you’ve done that day (cementing the knowledge in your brain), and they might end up clarifying something for you. It’s a win win situation, as well as a welcome break away from your desk.