How to carry on studying in disruptive circumstances

For students, professionals and all exam candidates, it is important to remain focused on the big picture, writes Lora Benson MCIPR, CISI head of media


The current Covid-19 global emergency is posing particular challenges. Remaining focused and motivated to study when exam dates are postponed or cancelled is difficult.

The current situation will improve, and normality will resume. Your professional and career development remains important, so you should expect to sit your exam in the future.

Adjusting to new working (and childcare) arrangements will be a challenge. You are not alone. Take a look at the following suggestions.

Stay focused

It is quite normal to be concerned by developments in the Covid-19 situation. Remain informed but be mindful that social media and TV reporting can raise stress levels and anxiety. Try checking in only at set times, say, once or twice during the day instead.

Maintaining regular schedules will help you keep your focus. Build on your existing plans and try to make this more structured than usual. Put your regular study slots in your diary and commit to making them happen. If you have someone who could keep you accountable to your plan that may help you keep on track.

Pick the right environment

Having a safe, comfortable, distraction free place to study is always important. Natural light helps too.

You may have been used to studying at work or in a public space such as a library. Moving this to the home brings challenges. Where possible, physically keep your work/study space away from your relaxing space – even if it’s just a tablecloth draped over your laptop/study materials. Maintaining separation is important for your mental and physical wellbeing.

Keep to your normal time boundaries

Working from home can often result in working overtime. You may find yourself thinking you will ‘just finish …’ and end up working until late. Keep the same time boundaries as you would normally. When the day is done, switch off, rest, and connect with your friends and family.

Eat healthy food and take a lunch break

Keep hydrated with plenty of water. Fruit and vegetables will support your immune system. Be sure to take a full lunch hour with regular breaks throughout the day as your eyes and body need a rest from your computer or laptop.

Stay active

Even a few minutes each day can help, perhaps doing some stretches or going for a walk around the house. There are lots of free online meditation and home exercise apps if you feel so inclined. A change of environment (even just standing and walking to the next room) can often help you refocus.

Get as much fresh air as you can. Go for an early morning walk to minimise contact with others and always observe social distancing.

Prioritise sleep

The change in routine will take its toll on your body, so it’s important to get a good night’s sleep. This will re-energise you and keep your immune system functioning.

Do the things you love

Although you might not be able to do everything you normally would, try and keep busy with hobbies after the working day and maintain your work-life balance.

Remember: Don’t feel that you should be taking on brand new hobbies or tasks unless you really want to. Some are already feeling the social pressures of continuing as normal while others are publicising the numerous new things they are doing. Do what suits you, not what suits others.

Online resources to help you

We have a number of tools available to help you on our website:

  • CISI Revision Express
    Our online tool expands on course work and helps students revise though exercises and questions. It contains a list of helpful links for future reading and a glossary of terms. The ebooks provided for CISI exam study contain interactive media, including a read-aloud function. Engaging more than one sense at a time aids learning.
  • CISI Professional Refresher
    Our CPD platform helps students and candidates stay up to date with sector developments and will help build wider knowledge on specific subjects, eg, AI, conduct risk, or soft skills. Perhaps pick some subjects that you know nothing about to keep yourself stimulated. Also, the CISI TV channel has coverage of events which is a good way of breaking up the online study experience in a different stimulating format.
  • CISI Mental Health Portal
    Studying for exams can be stressful and the current circumstances may leave you anxious. We designed this service to support all in our sector (not just members) with the mental health challenges that can arise. Check out our videos, articles and tips on managing stress, anxiety and other mental health challenges.

Once this testing time is over, individuals will be looking for trusted professionals to guide them through their financial planning and help manage their money. The skills you develop as you study, sit, and pass, your exam will be needed. Keep focused, remain calm, and keep studying.

Published: 03 Apr 2020
  • Training, Competence and Culture
  • Soft Skills
  • Community
  • Career Development
  • mental health
  • Covid-19
  • Mental Health Portal
  • professional refresher

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