Posted on: February 10, 2020
Are deadlines piling up and you don’t know where to begin? Don’t know where to start with your reading assignments? Developing good study habits and studying a way that ensures you learn can be difficult. These 10 tips will give you a few quick pointers to get you on the path to successful studying.
1. Attend all your classes
It can be really tempting to skip a class or two here and there. You’re juggling a lot of deadlines; your part-time job is offering you extra shifts and you could do with the money. It won’t hurt to miss the occasional class, will it?
Skipping class isn’t a good idea. You can borrow your friend’s lecture notes, but you will still have missed out on a lot of information. Skipping a seminar where you get the chance to dig deeper into a topic and really understand it or have your opinions and understanding of the topic challenged is hugely important for learning. Without it, however much you read up, you will be a few steps behind your contemporaries and your lack of knowledge will put you at risk of lower grades if the topics you’ve missed come up in your exams or assignments.
Dragging yourself out of bed to get to campus in time for a 9am class isn’t easy when you’ve been studying late into the night, but it is worth the effort. Some universities will penalise students who miss class, assigning part of the grade based on class participation. And don’t forget, you’ve paid for this education so it’s your money you’re wasting!
2. Join a study group
Aside from giving you the chance to befriend others on your course, study groups are a great way to maximise your learning. They enable you to chat through areas that you may be struggling to understand, or enable you to test each other, to learn faster, and help guard against procrastination.
At the start of each semester, you’ll get your course handbooks, timetables, exam dates and essay deadlines. You’ll know what you need to read for each class and have to juggle it all around your other commitments. It can all feel a bit overwhelming and it is tempting to simply ignore it all for a few weeks.
Don’t let yourself fall into that trap. The longer you procrastinate the more stressful it will become to face. As soon as you get this information sit down with your diary or calendar and mark down every important date and deadline. Work back from each of them, marking down the dates you will need to start revising, the day you want to start planning that essay.
Once you have it all planned out it may still look a little daunting, but, believe me, you will be glad you did. Once you have a structure to work within, achieving each task will feel a lot more manageable.
4. Get to know your library
It can be all too easy to avoid spending time in your university library. It’s just where the books are, right? Well, yes, but there’s a whole lot more to a library’s resources than the books on the shelves or the ebook databases.
Within your library you will find a huge range of resources that can help you dig deeper into your area of study. From online subject databases, research archives and journal back-catalogues there are loads of resources to support you.
Librarians often run sessions to help familiarise students with the resources available in the university. Keep an eye out for posters advertising these sessions or simply ask your librarian to give you a tour of the library. Using the library properly can really help you get more out of your course.
5. Build a daily routine
In the busyness of university life, it can be easy to get distracted and get to the end of the day finding you haven’t done any studying at all. Block out a regular time every day to study and stick to it. Let your friends know that you aren’t free at that time, tell your employer that you can’t take shifts at that time. It will be hard at first but having a dedicated time to study will quickly create a good habit, allowing you to fully focus during that time and to keep the rest of the day for you to do whatever you want.
6. If you don’t understand ask
Sometimes we’ll here a concept or idea explained, and we simply won’t understand it. Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help, whether from your course mates or your lecturer. It can be intimidating approaching your lecturer and telling them that you don’t understand something. But that is what they are there for, to help you learn. And remember, they were students once too.
7. Learning tools
Find some learning tools that work for you. Mnemonics are a great way of remembering simple concepts or lists. They can be built around phrases, music or even rhymes. Flash cards are another great aid, you can use them to test yourself or get your friends to test you. When exam time looms, test yourself with old exam papers or essay questions. There are loads of other things you can try, and different tools work for different people.
8. Good notes
Making good notes as you study or listen to a lecture is so important. Don’t try to write down everything said in a lecture, keep to the key points. After class, try and expand on every point in your own words. It will help you to spot areas of difficulty. Colour code your notes, using the same colour to link related ideas and concepts. This will be a huge help when you return to them for an essay or revision.
9. Maximise study space
Wherever you study, whether it is in your room, the library, on your favourite bench in the park, you need to make sure that you are using the space as best you can. Keeping it tidy means you’ll spend less time looking for that one piece of paper you need. Keeping everything within arms reach means you don’t need to move to get something from across the room.
Kick distractions out of your study space too. Put your phone across the other side of the room so that it isn’t tempting to check your notifications. Turn off your internet (when you can) so that you’re not tempted to pop online. Playing music is helpful for some people, others need peace and quiet to really focus. The important thing is to find out what works for you.
University shouldn’t be all work and no play. You need to take plenty of time for yourself, to spend with your friends, to try new things. Doing nothing but study will lead to burn out and potential health problems. Finding time each day to relax, whether out with friends or simply in front of the TV in your room is really important. Always remember to take care of yourself.