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Paul Russell gives IRRV students some tips ....

Distance learning is an excellent way of studying for the IRRV whereby students can study at their own pace and at times to suit their individual lifestyles. In order to assist potential students I have outlined below approaches that I used which were extremely beneficial to me during my studies. In addition I have also included some of the negative aspects of distance learning that you should give some thought to before commencing your studies.

When you first receive your study material do not feel daunted by the amount of information contained within it and think about the following: -

Work out a timetable for study ensuring that the targets you set yourself are achievable. Monitor your progress and ensure that you allow yourself sufficient 'time off' for relaxation.

Think about what time of the day you feel at your best. This ensures that you feel as fresh as possible, which in turn helps you to retain information more easily. (For me it was first thing in the morning before the family got up).

Mix your modules to ensure that you have a variety of topics. This helps to make studying more interesting.

When reading your study material, highlight important areas for ease of reference.

The use of acronyms is always helpful to remember those tricky phrases and case law.

Look at past exam papers, this can be an important tool for your success.

Tutors are there to help. Make sure you contact them at an early stage and seek advice when needed.

Keep up to date with changes in law. This can be achieved by reading additional material such as IRRV Insight.

Ensure that you attempt the self-assessment tests and assignments. This is crucial to your success. Model answers are provided together with invaluable feedback and advice from your tutors. This gives you a valuable opportunity to know exactly where you need to concentrate your efforts. It is also excellent preparation for your exams as assignments are based around questions that could be asked.

The Distance Learning team are also there to provide help and guidance during your studies and I would encourage all students to contact them with any concerns they may have. I know, during my studies, when I required help and assistance then I could always rely upon the Distance Learning team to provide me with an answer or solution.

Some of the negative aspects about distance learning: -

The main problem with distance learning is that you can feel very isolated especially if all your previous learning has been in a classroom environment. However, keeping in touch with your tutors, the Distance Learning team and attending any relevant courses can help to overcome this. There are excellent residential courses that are run in the summer and autumn at Keele. This provides you with an excellent opportunity to meet your tutors face to face and interact with other students whom you may or may not wish to keep in touch with! The comforting fact is you realise that you are not on your own. At the residential courses you may also see your tutors in a different light performing some very interesting dance routines!

You will be faced with reams of Regulations and Case Law. Although this is important, you will learn, through your assignments, about what is required. Believe me; it is not quite as bad as it may first appear!

Hopefully the above will give you a brief insight into my experiences during my three years of studying and remember, as with most things in life the more you put in the more you will get out.

Although distance learning involves a lot of hard work it can also be very rewarding and enjoyable. I certainly felt a great deal of achievement when passing my exams and I am glad that I choose distance learning as my preferred studying method.

Good Luck! (Paul Russell IRRV)

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