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Should I Use Digital Textbooks for the NCAs?

Updated: May 15, 2020

Given the current state of the world, and the fact that many of the NCA recommended textbooks are free right now through Edmond Publishing (at time of writing), many of you may be asking whether digital is the way to go for your NCA studies.

The desire to buy physical books that you can highlight and bring with you to the exam is tangible given the NCA's open-book format. The more information you can bring into the exam with you the better... right? And since you can't bring any tech into the NCA exams that means physical books are better... right?

In reality won't have much time to flip through your textbooks during your actual NCA exams. Your notes will be your key reference material and you should make every effort to make them as concise as possible, with valuable highlighting and good tabbing/organization so they are easy to navigate during the exam (see an example here).

I cannot emphasize enough how useless the textbook will be in the exam itself; they are just too big! I've seen students in my own exams lug their textbooks into the exam hall only to have them take up valuable space on their desk during the exam but never be touched.

So the real question then, is whether you are comfortable studying and making notes off a digital textbook. Edmond offers their books through Adobe Digital Editions which means you can only open the textbooks using this (free) software on both your laptop, tablet, or phone. It certainly isn't the most elegant e-reader software on the market but it is functional and has some handy features geared towards students:

  • Highlighting - you can highlight just as you would in a physical book. However, if you are colour coder by nature (like me!) the single-color limitation will likely frustrate you.

  • Search - you can easily search for terms throughout the book which is handy if you are looking for material on a particular topic either for review or comparative reasons.

  • Copy-Paste - unlike a physical text book, you can generally copy/paste small chunks of text out of the book directly into your notes file (no re-typing long quotes or paragraphs).

Of course, some people love e-books while others hate them. So this really comes down to personal preference. That said, given that Edmond is currently offering 1-year access e-books for free, now might be the right time to experiment or re-explore your preference.

Happy Studying!



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