MBAs – Do You Know How to Study and Learn Effectively?

ID-100291560Most of us, MBAs included, never developed good study and learning skills during our primary, secondary or undergraduate education. Moreover, we tend to associate these skills with the formal education process and not often enough with career success. However, discovering how to study and learn can be of benefit, both academically and professionally. Fortunately, it is never too late to learn the techniques and methods that can help us improve how we study and learn which, in turn, can help improve our overall wellbeing and career success. The following is a brief discussion of the role effective studying and learning skills can play in an MBA’s life.

Techniques and Methods

Being able to study and learn more effectively involves the mastery of a select set of techniques and methods that education experts and others have demonstrated to be effective. You can learn most of these skills on your own, and a good starting point for development is to focus on two areas: note taking and reading skills. Some of the note-taking methods includes the, Cornell Method, Outlining Method, Mapping Method, Charting Method and Sentence Method. Strategies for reading-skill development comprise making connections, self-questioning, visualizing, inferring, determining importance and synthesizing. The links provided are resources that introduce each topic; and in some cases, they provide enough detail to start the development process. Mastery of two or more note-taking methods or reading strategies can be both academically and professionally beneficial.


For MBA applicants, students and alumni, there are numerous benefits to developing effective studying and learning skills. While specific payoffs for acquiring some of these techniques and methods will vary by individual, some examples include:

  • MBA Applicants – A renewed emphasis on studying and learning usually starts when applicants begin their preparation for taking the GMAT or GRE. Good note-taking methods can help test-preparation-course participants to organize notes and handout materials from class sessions for later review. Good reading skills allow test takers to study more material with better retention of key concepts. The result is better test scores.
  • MBA Students – Early on, MBA students discover how much they must read for their classes. While having too much to read may be a matter of perspective, the fact is that MBA students will have a lot to read – enough so that any improvement in reading and retention skills or note taking skills can make a difference in their quality of life while earning their MBA degree.
  • MBA Alumni – Having too much to read and never-ending meetings are a way of life for many MBA graduates, and developing reading and note-taking skills after graduation can help MBA alumni live and work smarter. Eliminating both rereading and note clarification can mean improved performance because there is little time for rereading materials and there is even less time to meet with conference attendees subsequent to a meeting to clarify unclear notes taken previously.

Getting Started

There are many approaches to developing the skills referenced above. The following is what I recommend:

  • Start associating studying and learning skills with career success and not just formal education processes.
  • Next, select an area on which to focus – note taking or reading comprehension.
  • Then, select a tool or technique from the selected area and focus on its mastery.
  • Repeat the previous two steps by either selecting another area or another tool or technique within the previously selected area to master.
  • Finally, regularly use the tools mastered.

Recommended Resource

While there are many resources available for helping you improve in the areas referenced above, one resource, which I find useful, is the website The site’s primary purpose is to provide visitors with curated lists of business books, blogs and courses in order to access information to help them solve a problem. However, one section of the website that is particularly relevant to developing study and learning skills – “Learn Faster” – provides information on:

Each section provides an excellent starting point for learning to study and absorbing information. In addition, the site provides lists of supplementary resources at the end of each section that one can access to learn more.

Developing effective studying and learning skills is seldom a priority for most MBAs. However, when developed and regularly used, these skills can make a big difference. It is never too late to start building these foundation skills for lifelong use. Start today.

Are there other things that you can recommend to the MyEMBA readers to help them study and learn effectively? Please add them by making a comment below.

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About the Author: Dr. Rodney Alsup is the creator of the MyeEMBA blog. His goal is to help MBAs live and work smarter.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

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