Perhaps the most prominent tragedy of modern day is that although the diverse focus of HSC Business Studies provides students with a fantastic introduction into the world of business, its overly ambitious scope of content leaves many students wondering how on earth they will memorise it all.
In fact, the biggest issue I have heard from students with regards to HSC Business Studies is that there is just so much content! Which is a fair point.
As a teacher and coach of both HSC Business and HSC Economics, I can objectively say that Business has a significantly larger number of concepts and to exacerbate this, there are times that connections within topics seem tenuous at best, making it harder to learn and remember.
But don’t stress. This article is here to help you memorise Business Studies content with some very useful memory hacks. So, let’s jump in!
Step 0: Learn to Love Your Business Studies Syllabus!
IMPORTANT: If you haven’t downloaded the Business Studies syllabus yet, do it right now!
The Business Studies syllabus is the MOST important document you will be referencing throughout the course, so download it, print it out, read it and learn to love it!
One more time — download your Business Studies syllabus right here.
Step #1: Create Effective Study Notes
We’ve written an amazing article on writing kickass study notes that you can check out here! But to make it easier for you, here are the main steps:
1. Plan ahead and decide on what type of notes you’ll be using. Typed? Hand-written? Using full sentences or dot point or mind maps?
2. Work out a system and a schedule for completing your notes in the amount of time you’ve got available.
3. Write those notes, baby! (Sticking to the syllabus like glue, of course).
4. Summarise those kickass notes before you move on to new topics or have an exam!
I would recommend a minimalist style to your notes. Keep them concise, don’t waffle, and use colour. Business exams and assessments also tend to stick to the syllabus quite closely, so it is logical for you to keep your notes tight and dot point driven.
I also suggest using mnemonics, which are memory devices like small acronyms or jingles which aid in memory retention.
Some of my favourite Business mnemonics are PLEGS from finance (Profitability, Liquidity, Efficiency, Growth, Solvency) and RIPS (role, influences, processes, strategies). But definitely feel free to get creative and make your own!
Step #2: Chunk Your Knowledge
What is chunking?
Chunking is one of the first concepts that teachers learn in their training. It refers to the cognitive (brain) processes that take place when we learn or revise content or knowledge.
More specifically, chunking involves taking individual pieces of information (chunks) and grouping them into larger, related units.
We need to do this because human memory is surprisingly limited, but by chunking we are able to more effectively use our working memory and engage with our content more deeply so that we not only remember it, but we know how to apply it.
How to chunk?
Look for Connections:
The biggest advantage of chunking is that by doing so, you will seek out relationships and connections between different concepts you perhaps would have missed. There are many different ways you can do this.
The most common and applicable way with Business Studies is to clump based on the syllabus sections: role, influences, processes, and strategies (RIPS). However even these can become too cluttered and as an example I have ‘chunked’ the Topic One Operations Strategies into related concepts.
The coloured dots symbolise how I group the syllabus dot points together based on conceptual connection.
- In yellow are ‘performance objectives’ and ‘quality management,’ and these are related because they are concerned with meeting certain targets during the operations process.
- In orange are ‘new product design’, ‘outsourcing’ and ‘technology’, which describe the work involved with developing new products or services.
- Further, in red are ‘supply chain management’ and ‘inventory management’, which are both concerned with physical distribution and stock management.
- Finally in green are what I consider ‘macro’ factors that pertain to the entire organisation rather than a smaller element within its operations.
It is scientifically proven that if you were to recall just a part of the chunk, you are much more likely to remember the other pieces of information in the chunk.
It also allows you to think more deeply about what you have learned and how they relate and inter-depend.
Think of your memory like a cluster. If you want to remember things easier, associate your new knowledge with what is already inside your cluster i.e. what you already know.
For example, in Topic 2 Marketing, if you study HSC Economics, you can relate the Economic factors and Government factors in influencing consumer choice to what you have learned in Economics of the business cycle and fiscal/monetary policy.
By blending your subject areas together rather than separating them into their own ‘blocks’, you will not only increase your recall ability, but you will also come to think more deeply, allowing you to appreciate and understand your subjects more.
And to prove it to you, think about why you are asked to use related texts in English. Your teachers want you to identify common themes and merit in the topics and areas you study to further enhance your understanding and appreciation for them.
I now ask you to take that same thinking and apply it to all your subjects. Think about how they all relate to one another and by doing so, you will start to become more of a ‘chunk’ learner and not an ‘isolation’ one.
(If you are also coincidentally struggling to find related texts for English, head over to this amazing guide on finding related texts in THREE easy steps)
Linking to an English article in a Business Studies one? Talk about chunking and associating!
Step #3: Create Mind Maps
Mind maps are also an excellent tool that incorporate a bunch of learning styles into one. They are first of all visual and physical as they are a user-created visual representation of information.
However, they are also verbal and logical as they integrate words and notes into a logical structure and system. For this reason, mind maps are often a very effective tool that summarise a large amount of information in a neat easily accessible manner.
If you type your notes, I would recommend using SmartArt in Microsoft Word, as these are very clean and simple graphic organisers which can help you structure your notes, thus keeping them concise.
However, nothing in my opinion compares to mind maps by hand. On a blank piece of paper I start with the topic, i.e. Finance. From there I create sub topics: role, influences, processes, strategies (RIPS). Then I list out the key ideas from each section and the fun begins.
When mind mapping, the most valuable thing you can do is to draw lots and lots of arrows. Connect different concepts from different sub topics. Tell a story with your mind maps. A messy mind map is a good mind map.
Mind maps are ideal for planning out essays and business reports, as it provides a visual guide on how your ideas and concepts relate and flow on from each other.
Step #4: Commit to Regular Practice
Memory is not simply about placing information within our brain, it’s also about being able to retrieve it and apply it. The best way to do this is to do regular practice.
Completing a variety of different tasks including short answer questions, essay questions, multiple choice questions and mock business reports will help you achieve this.
As a goal, I would recommend short answer questions to be completed along with notes as you write them, as this will provide you with immediate feedback and allow you to see what is more commonly tested and prioritised as a learning outcome in the syllabus.
As teachers, we are much more interested in your ability to understand larger overarching concepts rather than a scattered stockpile of smaller details. Use this to your advantage and keep it in mind while you write/study your notes!
For more long term memory recollection, writing an essay every two weeks will ensure you do not forget what you have learned and are well prepared for exams as you have already chunked, related and mind mapped all possible questions and angles which examiners may possibly take.
So how do you memorise HSC Business Studies Content?
And that’s it! We hope this helps you with memorising content for the subject and makes studying for Business Studies easier.
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Terry Huang completed his Bachelor of Secondary Education with a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of New South Wales. A strong believer that lessons should be engaging, relevant, and effective, his hustle and teaching approach have led to his recognition on the UNSW Faculty of Social Sciences Dean’s List for Academic Excellence, the NSW Teachers Federation Future Teacher scholarship, and the New Colombo Plan program. Terry enjoys listening to Kanye West, learning about cryptocurrency and memorising scenes from The Office.