5 – Guide to Studying

The main purpose of MACTT qualifications is to improve one’s performance, which for some participants is an end in itself. However, MACTT qualifications can be a stepping stone to future personal development.

We strongly advise each student to ‘manage’ their study schedule carefully. Students should clarify their aims, identify their strengths and weaknesses, consider the context in which they will be studying and generate a broad strategy for successfully covering and completing this course.

Students should take a broad overview of the requirements of any particular module and unit; consider their situation, workload and home responsibilities in the relevant study-period, then develop specific and realistic plans for active studying.

Students should bear in mind the overall course objectives for each module and unit, but may also find it useful to formulate more personal and specific objectives for themselves. At any time, MACTT Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) has the resources to be able to revisit specific study units. A Virtual Learning Environment within MACTT Platform1 is currently being developed and will also be made available to students shortly to access their resources.

The objectives outlined at the beginning of the course will help students to focus on their studies, make assessments / evaluations and apply their ideas by addressing real life work problems and scenarios as well as increasing awareness and deepening their subject knowledge.

For example, in relation to the process of studying, one may wish to set targets for:

  • The amount of time within which they will seek to complete a study task;
  • The quantity of work they aim to do in a particular week;
  • Progress through the modules and units, bearing in mind their other responsibilities and tasks.

Students should plan and monitor what they do, and where necessary, act to improve the process, quantity and quality of their work. One should make decisions about the importance they will attach to tasks, the time they choose to allocate to them, and the sequence in which they will do them.

If they do not plan their studies well, they run the risk of having large areas of knowledge base that one simply cannot cover. One should try to set targets and allow as much time as they can for studying by being realistic.

Students are advised to set-up a timetable and stick to it – build it into their plan. If they have to miss some study time, they have to re-organise their schedule:

  • Study under conditions that suit them best;
  • Study daily in a constant manner;
  • Take frequent

It is better to revise on a regular basis than to leave the major revision period until they are really desperate to use that knowledge. If one studies for two hours, they have to try and revise the work the following day for ten minutes. This method is known to be more successful in the longer- term.

Nevertheless, people learn in different ways. Creativity, the unexpected and discovery have an important part to play in education. We do not expect that all students will approach their studies in the same way, or in a way we prescribe. We advise and expect each student to be able to manage their studies and to be disciplined as to how they do it.

1 The MACTT Platform is intended to have a double function: from one end, it will host the Virtual Learning Environment where all training material and relevant training documentation will be uploaded and  shared with students; from the other end, it will be used by the MACTT staff to manage all student’s related procedures, including the enrolment in a course, the course assessment, the issuance of the certification and any other administrative correspondence. The MACTT Platform is currently being developed,  therefore a link and a platform structure is not available yet; however, upon its completion, MACTT staff  will inform the National Commission for Further and Higher Education and update any relevant document as required. In the meantime, all communications with the students and other relevant stakeholders are managed by MACTT staff via e-mail.

Students must think about the location in which they will undertake their personal learning. They should create a space where they can develop the habit of studying, keep their notes and reading material at hand and set aside some time when they can focus on the task planned without being interrupted.

When they are faced with any study-task or reading, it is helpful to spend a couple of minutes making notes on what they currently know about the topic, or think about the question. This exercise will bring about their own ideas and experience into focus. It could remind them of previous relevant information from the course. It will prepare them to respond critically to what they read and to integrate whatever they learn into their current knowledge and practice.

Creating a mind-map

 Creating a mind-map is sometimes a useful way to start such notes and to ensure that students generate a comprehensive range of points. By this we mean the rapid gathering of ideas, which seem relevant to a particular topic or problem, within a brief time limit and without judgement. Students can then reflect on each idea, develop and analyse the material as a whole, and make connections. Mind-mapping is a technique that students can use on their own, as well as in groups.

Using the syllabus/course objectives

 Each course aims to provide comprehensive coverage of the examination and/or assignment course objectives. Students must ensure that they have covered all the information required in their studies


It is important for students to know their study objectives in detail before starting their reading and note-taking activities. Many students put a great deal of effort into preparing notes but don’t manage to get very far as they stumble about, having no direction.

When they have set their learning objectives they can then identify what reading they will need to undertake. They shall adopt the appropriate reading strategy (e.g. reading selectively or reading entirely) and ensure to have access to all the necessary texts and journals, which they will require. Increasingly, students will need to make use of web-based material but they must ensure that any websites accessed are academically and professionally reliable.

There are various styles of reading, which are appropriate for different purposes. For studying in depth, learning and remembering, one should not necessarily start from the beginning and finish at the end of something they plan to read, but it obviously helps to do so.

First, they should look briefly at the whole item to see what is there. Then, look at headings and tables. Read any introduction or introductory paragraphs, any summary, and any concluding section. This way, they will already be developing an understanding of what is said, without any detailed reading. Skim reading each section to amplify their understanding. Finally, one can read the text in detail. Using these styles of reading, students gradually build up their understanding, and if they think that they could benefit by reading the entire text from cover to cover, then they can do so.

Note Taking

The lecture notes will give students the basic framework only of the ideas, theories and concepts they will need to complete the assignment. These notes will therefore not be sufficient on their own. They will need to make use of the required reading, extra references and any other material they come across in the course of researching their assignment.

Students should take notes as they read and add any comments, which they may think relevant as they go along. They should ensure that their reading is relevant to the topic – it is easy to find oneself ‘drifting away’ from the subject.

Students shall take down basic points from as many sources as they can manage and compare what the authors are saying as they are reading. There will be both similarities and differences   in their views and it helps if students can begin to classify authors together.

In addition to drawing on academic sources, one may be required to draw on their own practical experience. For example, something which students read in a textbook may contradict what occurs in one’s own organisation and this should be reflected in their notes and thoughts.

It is recommended that students try to simply take down relevant points, authors do not write  just so that students can achieve their own learning goals and not everything students read will be useful. When students are taking notes, they should try to keep sight of what they are after and ask themselves how they can use this material in their place of work (if any).

When they are taking notes, students should try to `translate’ what the author is saying into their own words. Also, they should try to think about what is being said from their own perspective – whether they agree or disagree with the points that the author is making?

Good note taking also helps avoid plagiarism as their notes will represent their summary of what other writers have said. Noting down all details of the author, book/journal title, website, publisher, chapter and page numbers makes referencing one’s learning easier.

After completing their reading and note-taking students should organise the material they have collected into a logical sequence which will allow them to have a well-organised way to jog their memory and probe it in times of need.

It is important to make use of periods of reading and study, in order to derive maximum benefit from them. At stages along the way, students revised to summarise key things they have learned, both about the topic under discussion, and the process of thinking and learning. It is easy to forget new ideas. New tools, methods and skills require practice. To aid one’s memory, students should review their notes regularly. To help develop their skills by using new tools, it is advised  that they try them out at work if and when possible.

People generally seem to find it easier to focus on weaknesses and negative points when they are evaluating propositions, people and projects. However, evaluation should cover positive points and strengths, too. To counteract this tendency, and to explore a range of factors relevant to analysis, it is useful at the beginning of a period of evaluative thought to brainstorm (for about a minute) first the positives and then the negatives, then the interesting things about the matter in question. This approach will bring forth key ideas to the surface before one considers them in more depth.

Of course, the same idea may fall under more than one category. At this stage, that does not matter; students are simply examining ideas. This process is a tool and a technique to help a certain type of thinking, which students will find helpful throughout their course of studies.