What I learned from completing my first CIM assignment Study skills | Lauren Pettitt | 23 November 2018

It had been a few years since I’d last studied at University and so my assignment preparation was a little rusty. Like all other marketers, it had come to the time when gaining a professional CIM qualification was the next logical step in my career and so I took the decision to re-fresh my memory when it came to studying…only this time I was working full-time as well.

Needless to say, I learned a few things when it came to preparing my first assignment for the Digital Marketing module of the Certificate in Professional Marketing. Although I’d had previous experience of using the Harvard Referencing system in my university assignments, the CIM course proved a little different. 

So, I thought I would share how best to make use of not only your resources, but most importantly, your time:

  1. Get to know your Learning Zone portal – whether you are attending classes or Distance Learning, your first point of call should be to log-in to your Learning Zone (even if you only have 10 minutes spare). This will be your ‘hub’ for College resources, provide your tutors details and your exam/submission dates so it’s important you know where to find these when you need them. 
  2. Set up a plan – set aside certain evenings of the week and hours across a weekend (or alternate each week) to ensure you’re allowing yourself ample study time over the next 8-12 weeks. DO NOT try to sit down on a Sunday and cram in all your hours for that week in one day. It won’t work and you won’t be productive.
  3. Follow your study plan – another great feature of the Learning Zone is that it plans your study out FOR YOU and allows you to track how far you’ve progressed. On a week by week basis per module, you can see what to watch, listen to, read and research. This is particularly handy for Distance Learning when you’re having to be fully self-sufficient with your studies.
  4. Download your assignment/exam practise questions in the early stages – have a look through what the questions are asking you and it will make it easier to pin certain information and resources for when it comes to completing your assignment/prepping for your exam. DO NOT download them later on and scramble through your notes for the answers.
  5. Keep a neat folder – segment it into the different topics you learn along the way, or by a week by week basis (never underestimate the importance of a coloured sticky note) and avoid being ‘highlighter happy’ (mass highlighting will not help you and you will not take information in).
  6. Compose a separate section for jargon and models – you’ll come across new marketing terminology and relevant models and it is essential you make note of these and use in your assessments where necessary to gain the marks.
  7. Recorded classes – these are a very helpful resource, whether you need to refresh your memory from your classes or elaborate on the theory in your companion guides. The two marry up so you can make notes alongside your guide as you follow the classes.
  8. Take notice of the exercises and links in your companion guides – this may fuel you with ideas for your assessment at the end of the module and help you understand the theory better.
  9. Your tutor is there to help you! – always make sure you contact your tutor for the module if you have any questions. They won’t reach out to you to check how you’re doing throughout your course, they are on hand if you need them as you progress through your study.
  10. Always complete a FULL draft – if you’re submitting an assignment for your module, make sure you submit a full draft to your tutor for the module by the deadline. They provide comments on what you send them so if you submit a half draft, you’re not giving yourself the added benefit of earning more marks! It’s so essential that you take notice of their feedback and amend your draft accordingly.
  11. Finally, make sure your CIM membership is up to date – not only does it give you access to ALL their resources as well (making trips to the library for secondary resources a thing of the past!), you will need it to book your assessments. The last thing we want is for you to have all your hard work wasted because you’re not booked in to submit!
  12. Reference, reference, reference – if you’re unsure how to use the Harvard Referencing System, it is essential to make sure you familiarise yourself with it before you start your assignments. DO NOT panic and rush at the last minute! Guidance can be found in your Learning Zone if you need it. 

Undoubtedly, studying alongside full-time work and other commitments is hard but I promise you by the end you will feel immensely proud of yourself for what you have achieved. Essentially, if you are able to work out a plan that works for you (and stick to it) and know exactly where to locate your learning resources, you will be fine.

All the best in your future assignments :).