7 ways to study - Advice from Students, Tutors and Experts

7 ways to study - Advice from Students, Tutors and Experts

7 Ways to Study Smarter

CIM Level 6 Diploma in Professional Marketing student Dave Thackeray is just weeks away from the Strategic Marketing exam. Today he asks seven highly-respected marketers how to prepare for the big day...

I was a serial failure at school. Fidgety and largely disinterested by the standard curriculum fare, I found myself excelling at anything remotely creative. But if you’re not a professional actor being great at drama doesn’t cut it; and despite being pretty competent at languages, I’m still getting to grips with Wiganese 18 months after starting my current role in Greater Manchester’s Pie Zero. But I love a challenge and that’s why rebooting my studying ambitions more than 20 years on seemed like a good idea. I’m a big fan of many different learning styles, which is why I picked Professional Academy to help me pass my CIM Level 6 Diploma in Professional Marketing. I can study at my leisure to get a good grounding but from what I’ve heard the workshops offered to students choosing the blended option (rather than purely distance learning) are a veritable godsend for boosting your confidence and validating everything you’ve discovered on your own.

Now I’m back in the hot seat and the studying is well underway, I recall many of the problems I once had. I think working in a digital role has exacerbated many of the foibles I suffered as a teenager - my attention span seems short, and a lot of the theories I’m learning are going in one ear, and out the other. During those dark days when I don’t seem to remember anything (I’m on 2.2 in the Strategic Marketing module CIM workbook and it’s all about numbers, which were never my strong suit) the words of my Professional Academy tutor Carol Laing shared in my last blog post ring in those same ears. Focus and concentration are clearly the order of the day, and these skills are especially important when time is short and you feel like you’re working all the hours god sends. Which is why I decided to reach out to several people I highly respect to get their take on how to study smarter. When it comes to tips and tricks, I find short responses hits the sweet spot so I went on the Tweet beat to hear what they have to say...


Know thy purpose

Paul Smith (PR_Smith) of PR Smith, co-author of eMarketing Excellence and creator of the SOSTAC® marketing planning system told me it’s essential to know precisely the goals of your study so you’re not wasting any time swotting up for those all-important exams.

Go with the tried and trusted

Paul’s a big cheese in marketing so we’re more than happy to have him give a shameless - but wholly justifiable - plug for his own system that has inspired thousands of organisations at large to crush it. This relates closely to the Strategic Marketing module since it includes a deep dive into marketing planning:

Consistency, not cramming

Prolific and award-winning marketer, and author CC Chapman (@CC_Chapman) said planning and preparation triumphs every time for smart students:

Play the long game

Some Professional Excellence tutors and former students had things to say on the timing front. It seems there are two trains of thought when it comes to scheduling your studying. Find a day and dig in, says Claire Boscq Scott:

Rinse and repeat

… or just build repetitive habits. Says Marcus Kilvington:

Take note

Fellow Professional Academy tutor John Chacksfield is a big fan of online tools that help you store and locate notes and information to help you create the definitive study resource.

Action, not distraction

To round up this list, seriously social marketeer Jeremy Waite offered up some solid - and unexpected - solutions to age-old problems of distraction getting in the way of action:


Those are some tips I learned to help me study smarter. Proof’s going to be in the pudding when I take my first CIM exam in December. First I have a Professional Academy two-day workshop by when I hope I’ll be well on course to giving the test my best shot. You'll be hearing how I fared in that workshop in my next article. Meantime I’m always on the hunt for better ways to study so if you have any wise words to share, Tweet me at @davethackeray and I’ll post the best here on the blog over the next few months.


Dave Thackeray Documents his CIM Student JourneyFormer journalist, editor and company owner Dave is now the web and social media officer at WLCT, a charity operating leisure services for councils. After years making his way through the marketing maze he decided to go back to basics and learn how to do it properly with Professional Academy and CIM. Follow his progress on this blog and feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter to ask about his experiences. 

If you would like to Join Dave on a CIM Marketing Qualification Course you can contact Professional Academy for some advice or Download a copy of the Marketing Prospectus today