How To Study Business
Business typically isn't a required subject in high school or college – it's an elective. Consequently, most students who take business courses do so because they're interested in learning about business and developing business skills. In your business classes you can expect to find other students who are just as interested in studying business as you are. Business classes provide an excellent atmosphere for learning since business students are engaged in course topics, studying with one another, and contribute to the learning process. The downside is that competition among business students for top grades can be intense.
Below we'll explore proven strategies and tips for honing your business study skills and improving your academic performance in your business classes.
Find a Place to Study
Research has demonstrated that finding the right place to study has an impact on the effectiveness of time spent studying. This is especially true when studying business. The same research also showed that the best study locations are those which are (1) comfortable and (2) free from distractions. However, this does not mean that the best study locations are those without noise. Noise, in and of itself, is not distracting to everyone. Having the TV on, music playing in the background, or studying in a crowded library works for some people. The key to finding a good study location is finding an environment that works for you.
Manage Your Time
Studying business management effectively is not about studying longer, it's about studying smarter. This becomes especially true when taking college level business courses (e.g., MBA) that can pile on so much work there aren't enough hours in the day to complete it all. The following are proven time management tips for improving your performance in your business courses.
- Don't procrastinate. Like math, many business courses are cumulative. What you learn today builds on what you learned in previous classes. This is particularly true of business courses in accounting and corporate finance. If you fall behind, it takes a lot of additional work and time to get caught up.
- Make a schedule. At the beginning of each business course make a realistic schedule and stick to it throughout the semester. This will ensure you're making necessary progress along the way and that at the end of the semester you're prepared for exams.
- Pace yourself. While it is possible to cram for some business tests, you shouldn't have to, and it isn't a good long-term strategy. If you pace yourself, and begin your preparations far in advance, you will be ready for end-of-term exams without needing to cram at the last moment. If you're a business major, or pursuing an MBA, you'll be taking so many business classes that cramming at the end of the semester isn't an option.
- Focus on what's important. As a former MBA student, I can attest that sometimes you just won't have time to get everything done. If you're taking a business class worth 4 credits and another worth 1.5 credits, and you're strapped for time, first focus your studies on the class worth 4 credits. Then come back and tackle the class worth 1.5 credits.
Use Study Groups
Whether you're a high school or college student, forming study groups is an effective strategy for enhancing learning. Study groups are particularly useful for students who are studying business for the following reasons.
- Study groups allow business students to share their unique experiences, perspectives, and insights with one another.
- Study groups allow students to compare class notes and discuss concepts covered during lectures.
- Study groups provide motivation and support to group members.
- Study groups enable students to cover more material than they could on their own.
- Study groups provide a collaborative learning environment.
- Study groups make learning business fun.
However, not all study groups are the same. The following are tips for developing effective study groups.
- Keep groups between 4 and 6 people. Groups with less than 4 people don't have the ability to take advantage of all the benefits study groups can offer. Groups with more than 6 people become unmanageable and counter productive.
- Make sure your group includes members who are dedicated to their own success as well as the success of the group. Group members should not only come prepared to group meetings they should also come prepared to class.
- Study group meetings should be held in locations where there are no distractions. Libraries typically offer group study rooms for this purpose.
- Study sessions as a group should be no longer than 2 to 3 hours. When sessions extend longer than 3 hours, group members tend to lose focus and start socializing.
- If you're going to hold weekly group study sessions, they should be held at the same location and at the same time each week. This way group members will plan their schedules to accommodate study sessions and an expectation of attendance, participation, and preparation is communicated.
For study groups to be effective, (1) they should have clear objectives and goals, (2) individual group members must arrive prepared, (3) every member of the group should actively participate, and (4) study sessions need to stay focused.
Break Large Tasks Into Smaller Ones
Sometimes when you look at everything you have to accomplish it can be a little overwhelming. When studying business, it's helpful to break large tasks and projects into smaller ones. For example, break up a textbook reading assignment into chapters rather than pages. When taking on a challenging case study, break it down into manageable parts, that you can analyze individually, in order to see the big picture.
When Possible, Tailor Your Education
Tailoring your business education to your particular interests and career goals will make it much more interesting, you'll be more focused, and you'll stay motivated longer. If you're able to choose business electives, choose electives that are in line with your long-term career aspirations. When assigned papers or projects, try to select topics that genuinely interest you.