Learning something new is sometimes easier said than done. This is particularly true for anyone taking the private investigator course. It takes a lot of work to understand how to correctly interview people, communicate effectively, write great reports, and understand the rules to working within a defined jurisdiction.
Here’s the thing. Part of learning such a specific set of skills requires you to put in a little effort. Taking the time to study outside of your private investigation course classes will help to keep you on top of the information you need to know in order to eventually obtain your private investigator license.
As a private investigation firm that offers award-winning training courses, we’ve got plenty of experience with students. Over the years, one thing that has caught our attention is that many students struggle with studying. To try and help put you at ease, we’ve put together 7 ways to study more effectively during the PI training course.
More than Just a Number
You need to remember is that grades aren’t everything. While it’s nice to get perfect scores, you might end up sacrificing your health and wellbeing in the process.
Why are you taking the private investigator course? It’s a good question, one that you hopefully have an answer for. It might be because you like to help people solve problems, or that you eventually want to become a police officer. Whatever the reason, it likely isn’t tied to a percentage. It’s tied to the information that you will have learned by taking the course.
Understanding this critical difference will help you to take the pressure or stress away from any studying you do.
Set Achievable Goals
So. You want to learn everything you can about the life of a private investigator in three days? Sorry. It’s our job to tell you: that’s not a great idea.
The best way to approach studying is to set goals for yourself. Your goals should be both short and long-term. Think about it this way: what do you want to achieve this week compared to what do you want to achieve at the end of the PI training course?
Your goals should also be something that you know is realistic and achievable. If you know that you can only dedicate one hour each night to studying, then don’t make one of your goals to study for three hours. In addition, when it comes to bigger goals, it is important to break your studying habits up into smaller steps in order to achieve them.
Some examples of good, achievable goals include,
- I will set aside 7:00 – 8:00 PM from Monday to Friday to study for the PI training course.
- I will read more about [insert topic here] on Monday.
- I will show up to class early on Friday because I have questions about [insert topic here].
- By next month, I will understand [insert several topics here].
Practice Note Taking
At first glance, note taking might seem easy enough. All you have to do is listen to the instructor and write down what they say, right? Well, not exactly. Note taking is a skill that many people assume they know how to do well, but when they need their notes for an exam or test, they quickly discover that they completely missed important details. In some cases, it’s nearly impossible to decipher what they’ve even written!
Here are our tips:
- Take the time to create your own summaries of the material you learned in each class. This will help you to better recall the information as well as highlight important details.
- Write with the tools you are most comfortable with—be it a pen or laptop. There are some people more comfortable with writing out their notes by hand, while others can barely read their own writing. Use what works best for you. After all, you are the one who will be using the notes you create.
- Separate different points by using separate lines. This visual trick will help you to clearly see the important information when you return to your notes.
- Leave some space on one side of the page (also known as a margin). Here, you can add any thoughts or questions you might come up with as you review the material.
- Take good care of your notes. Make sure to back them up on your computer or put them all together in a binder. The last thing you want is to loose your notes just before your private investigation exam.
Schedule Your Study Time
You’ll notice that a lot of the examples we provided for setting your study goals involve setting a time and date. We have a good reason for this and it’s tied to the fact that setting a schedule for your study time helps to hold (and keep) you accountable.
If you just decide that you’re going to study at some point this week, it becomes much easier to procrastinate or forget about it altogether. Defining a specific date and time however ensures that you work studying into your schedule, like a coffee date with a friend. It becomes something that you’ve made space for, which means you’re much more likely to show up and study instead of blowing it off.
Location, Location, Location
Finding the right place to study is so important. Some people require absolute silence, while others need background noise to even have a chance of getting any work done. Therefore, you shouldn’t head to a coffee shop if you need silence, nor should you go to a library if you need lots of background noise.
The most important thing to remember about picking the right study location is that you need to minimize or eliminate distractions. Eliminating distractions will help you to better concentrate on studying and learning the material.
Turn it Off
Congratulations, you’ve picked out the perfect location! The only thing is, you’ve brought along your cell phone, connected your laptop to Wi-Fi, and let’s not forget the tablet you’re carrying in your bag, “just in case”.
While you’ve eliminated the distractions caused by your surroundings, you’ve increased your personal distractions. It is very difficult to retain any information about becoming a private eye if you don’t give it your complete attention. In addition, focus and concentration are both skills you need in order to be a great PI. You might as well learn them now before you get your license.
We’ve all been there. When it comes to studying, we just want to learn as much as we can, as fast as we can. The problem with this approach is simply that you can only retain so much information. If you try to move through your private investigator studies too quickly, you’ll only have to re-learn it again later.
There you have it: 7 ways to study more effectively for the private investigator training course. Still have questions? Feel free to reach out to the Smith Investigation Agency at any time.
We’re here to help you succeed.