How to Study and Sit your Examination Effectively

The following are some key pointers to enhance your prospects of completing your examination successfully.

How to Study

Our guides are to help you study and successfully prepare more effectively for your examination. Learn how to make the best use of your time for studying and in your examination.

Make a study plan, record your plan and check your progress against your plan. If you are not achieving your plan don’t tear it up and make a new plan. Compromise between what extra you can give and how much you can afford your plan to slip. Use how well you have achieved your plan as motivation by adding bonuses like treats for certain milestones. Your plan be should as SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) as possible so you should have a timeline and specific achievements at each milestone.

You can develop a timeline using the recommended hours of study for each course plus a safety margin divided by the weeks you have before the exam. Or you can take the opposite approach and divide the units of the course by the total time you have available. 

As well as monitoring your study progress you also need to ensure you are achieving your learning objectives. Use every opportunity provided to test your knowledge and understanding of the syllabus. The IBD learning materials should provide plenty of those.

Are you a morning or an evening learner? Some people learn best in the morning when their minds are fresh while some feel they retain knowledge best when they study in the evening. Find out what works best for you and plan you study around that. To some extent the best time will be dictated by your shifts, kids or what time the match kicks off. Try to find the best compromise.

When studying, every distraction can impede learning. Try to find somewhere quiet or buy some noise-cancelling earphones. Make sure your phone is out of reach so you are not tempted to continually check it.

Decide what you want from your study. Be it a better job, more money, some impressive letters after your name or just a sense of achievement, decide what it is and keep a record of that. When times get hard use this as your motivation to keep going. Visualise how good success will feel.

Don’t wait until you have hours of free time to study. Break it down into smaller chunks and take advantage of opportunities whenever they arise. Some more complex concepts require longer periods of study but most can be assimilated in bite-sized chunks.

The key is to make sure you are maintaining momentum and not allowing the time you are spending on learning to decline.

Don’t put it off. Learning is tough and it’s easy to find Instagram or even a pile of unwashed dishes more appealing than equations and pathways. Every time you find a reason why studying isn’t a priority, remember your SMART plan and your dream job.

This might seem a bit odd coming from a piece on how to study but there is only one you and you are old enough to have a good idea of how you learn best. If you are constantly changing how you learn on the basis of another great approach you’ve read about, you are less likely to progress. That said below are a number of approaches you can consider:

  • Taking notes - you could try using bullet points, different coloured pens, or anything that makes review at a later stage easier
  • Writing flash cards with key learning points - there are some apps that you can use like https://quizlet.com/features/flashcards
  • Rewriting the learning material in your own words
  • Teaching the concepts to a colleague or friend
  • Making voice recordings and playing them back while you are commuting or in the gym
  • Using mnemonics and/or mental pictures to help you memorise the facts and figures

Even though you are studying online you can still make notes (either on paper or on a device using Word, or an app like Evernote). Taking notes digitally also allows you to paste the url the notes refer to for future reference.  

If using Word, keep notes on a single Word document and click on the “Ctrl” & “F” key to find information. Your notes are then all available on the same document and easier to find when needed. 

You can highlight text using plug-ins like Liner and also bookmark pages you want to review again.

All our learning material is hosted online via Moodle. To access your specific exam material, visit https://learn.ibd.org.uk

This video explains how to access your learning material for the first time.

How to Sit the Examination - Advice for Diploma and Master Candidates

The first critical step is to ensure that you follow all of the instructions in the emails that are sent to you either by IBD or by TestReach. This sequence of emails contains all of the instructions and information you require to be able to access your examination on the day, as well as information about how to access any help or support if you require it and what is permitted/not permitted during the examination.

It is also extremely important to always allow plenty of time to get your laptop/PC started and get logged in so that you will be fully ready to approach the exams in a calm state of mind.

Candidates can log in up to 15 minutes before their examination start time. This window is used to allow candidates to check their set-up, complete a system check, check ID and confirm with a proctor that they are ready to begin their examination. Candidates are then recommended to use the first 15 minutes at the start of the examination window as reading time to plan how they are going to attempt the questions

When reading the questions, read the requirements for each question carefully. It is useful to ensure that you pick out the keywords and understand the verbs in the questions. This will ensure that you answer the questions correctly and to the point.

You need to make sure that you will be answering the correct number of questions, and that you spend the right length of time on each question. The amount of time you spend on each question is determined by the number of marks available.

Diploma candidates

  • Section A; 30 short answer questions totalling 40 marks – all questions to be answered
  • Section B; 6 long answer questions, 20 marks each, 4 of which must be answered totalling 80 marks.

Both Section A and Section B need to be completed within the Exam time of 3 hours (+15 minutes reading time)

Master Candidates - Modules 1 to 4

  • Paper 1; Short answer questions totalling 100 marks all questions must be answered
  • Paper 2; 6 Long answer questions, 25 marks each, 4 of which must be answered totalling 100 marks

Paper 1 and Paper 2 are both 2 hours (+ 15 mins reading time) each


Master Candidates – Module 5

All of the instructions pertinent to module 5 are contained within the Master syllabus documents available on the IBD website We advise candidates to read these carefully before submitting their final dissertations on 23rd June 2022.


Planning your answer properly and presenting them clearly is another critical component to IBD exam success, especially for long answer/essay type questions. While you’re planning how your answer should be structured, consider what format it should be in and how long each part should be.

If the questions are multi part questions always show which part you are attempting clearly. Make use of headings, sentences, paragraphs, bullets and tables to present your answers in a clear and concise manner. Paragraphs that are too long or which lack a header do not help the marker. It is also essential to include all your workings in your answer. If you are stuck with a question, highlight/flag your question on the screen and return to it later.

To score well, you must follow the requirements of the question, understanding what aspects of the subject area are being tested and ensure that you tailor your answer to the question asked. You should make it a point to read the requirements at least twice and this will determine what information you should provide in an appropriate format.

Always plan your answers and do not just write down everything you know about a topic. Check whether your plan covers all relevant points and exclude irrelevant material. Remember, marks will only be given for what is relevant, and by including irrelevant points, you will also be showing the examiner that you lack the ability to judge what is important.

Don’t forget that the scope of each of the IBD examinations is the syllabus. Where IBD learning materials are available for the examinations, these will support your studies to enable a pass. However, in order to achieve fuller marks examiners will be looking for candidates to demonstrate that they are extending their learning and studying to the full scope of the syllabus for their examination.

Remember that examiners are not just looking for a display of knowledge; they want to see how well you can apply your knowledge in the context of the exam questions. Evidence of application and judgment will include writing answers that contain only the relevant information.

Get the easy marks first – do the things you find easiest, it guarantees you some marks right away, and gets you into the ‘flow’ of the exam. In areas of the exam where you have a choice of questions, you should select the questions you feel you can answer best.

Some questions may require you to present your answer in a specific format, and use the correct format – there could be easy marks to gain here.

We have all had those nightmare exams where you don’t recognise any of the questions or you don’t even understand the question; don’t panic. Take your time, leave that question  and come back to it if necessary but don’t let your head go down.

If you don’t understand what a question is asking for, state your assumptions. Even if you do not answer the question in a manner precisely the way the examiner requires, you could still be given some credit, if your assumptions are reasonable.

If you find yourself stuck on a question and unable to answer it, then move on to another question and return to this question later.


Success is what you can expect to achieve if you apply all of the above tips and techniques during your exams. To achieve success, you must also sufficiently revise for your exams. Being prepared will help you enter the exam in a confident frame of mind, which will help you as you start your exam. Make sure that your revision covers the breadth of the syllabus, as all topics could be examined in a compulsory question.

Remember, the key to your success lies in your own commitment and resolution towards doing well in the exams.


Part A

Explain the measures which are available for assessing the effectiveness of plant maintenance. [10 marks]


Discuss the constraints and competing demands which may affect maintenance activities. [10 marks]



 Part A

 The availability aspect of Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) is important. This is made up of availability, performance, and quality (all 3 important)

% Availability = actual uptime / scheduled runtime x 100

% Performance = Units produced / actual runtime / design capability x 100

% Quality = units produced that are pass specifications (and to note that the amount of quality failures may be symptomatic of maintenance issues).


The measures to be explained in candidates' answer for assessing the effectiveness of plant maintenance are :

  1. Meantime between failure
  2. Meantime to repair
  3. Planned Maintenance backlog
  4. Compliance to planned hours (schedule)
  5. Spares stock-outs
  6. % of Planned Maintenance / Predictive work
  7. % of corrective maintenance
  8. % of technician working say hours on “tools”
  9. Autonomous Maintenance hours worked
  10. Proactive Work Capacity index (PWCi) = Schedule Compliance x Schedule Load x Tool time. PWCi world class levels = 0.9 x 0.9 x 0.65 = 0.53

 It is also important that candidates also explained these above measures with a cost emphasis ie Maintenance cost / unit output &/or Cost as % replacement value



The constraints and competing demands which need to be detailed in the candidate answer and which may affect maintenance activities are :

  1. Time:
  • Loss of scheduled maintenance time for production
  • Slots for extended maintenance work
  • Pressure to fix breakdowns temporarily rather than permanently
  • Unsocial hours for maintenance
  • Regulatory deadlines (e.g. pressure system inspections)
  1. Cost:
  • Labour costs, number of technicians
  • Specialist contractors
  • Spares stockholding
  • Affordability / scope of shutdown work
  1. Skills:
  • Own staff skills
  • Specialist skills requirements
  1. Access:
  • Plant availability for the production elements
  • Plant availability for shared services / utilities
  1. Other
  • Competing priorities where maintenance resources shared
  • Working with inherently unreliable plant which can be de-motivating!
  • Agreeing which maintenance activities are appropriate
  • Measuring effectiveness
  • Motivation of staff